The Yawpers, Live at Doug Weston’s Troubadour, West Hollywood, California, Tuesday, March 7, 2017.
Review and Pictures: Roy Braatz Jr
The Yawpers! It’s a name that might not be familiar to many of you just yet, but it will be; mark my words. I first ran into these guys about a year ago at The Viper Room on the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood, CA. I was up there to catch a Supersuckers show that night, and for some God awful reason the venue had booked a total of no less than six opening bands to suffer through before getting to what the audience actually came for. I wandered in early that night to get out of the rain, thinking I’d empty a few tall boy PBRs and kill some time with a few bartenders I know up there until Eddie Spaghetti and Co. hit the risers. And I’m fucking glad I did. Enter Nate Cook (guitars, vocals), Jesse Parmet (guitars, vocals), and Noah Shomberg (Drums, vocals) a.k.a. The Yawpers. There’s no better feeling than to walk into a bar to see some live action expecting nothing, and walking out feeling like the first explorers must have felt when they came across the deserts and stumbled across the great Pacific for the first time; it was as if an entirely new world unfolded before me. Mind blowing!
As the opening-band torture began on that Viper Room night, I was standing in the back flipping through my phone and just trying to wait it out. This lasted for what seemed like an eternity. Suddenly out of nowhere, came this incredibly huge pounding sound. I looked up wondering what the hell just tore the walls off the bar and saw these three guys up on stage tearing it up in unbelievable fashion right from the first hammer with a performance way too big for such an unworthy stage. With two acoustic guitars and a set of drums, I’m still finding it almost impossible to believe that such mammoth sound was coming from just three people. But it was. I had never heard or seen anything like it before. From that point on, I was The Yawpers’ biggest fan. Standing there glued to the stage wondering why these guys weren’t headlining this show because they should have been, and you can tattoo that on your ass.
One of my own best memories as an artist was being at an opening exhibition of my own work in a London warehouse, standing in front of one of my paintings that was hanging there slightly crooked, when an older lady came up next to me trying to decipher the painting we were in front of. Without knowing that she was standing right next to the artist, she exclaimed to me, “Good Lord, Look at this! I feel like I’ve just been slapped in the face.” I felt warm and fuzzy all over. As an artist, it was sort of the moment I had been waiting for my entire career. I consider it the best unintentional complement I’ve ever had. How horrible would it have been had that old lady said something awful, such as, “Oh, look! What a ‘nice’ painting this is. Such a ‘pretty’ painting.” How incredibly defeating would THAT have been. In the best way possible, this is sort of what I was thinking the night I first heard The Yawpers play but it was less like being slapped in the face, and more like being punched full-face-front with a pair of brass knuckles to the Maxilla. It was the most honest, brutal, indigenous, smack me in the face sound, with the kind of no bullshit message that music has been lacking at this level since we lost Tupac. In an industry that has some fear “risk taking”, these guys throw it all on the table with a no-apologies message and an I-Don’t-Give-A-Shit state of mind that makes what they do simply fucking brilliant and rare.
The Yawpers were back in the city of Lost Angeles this past Tuesday, March 7th, at the legendary Troubadour in West Hollywood, CA on their West Coast tour with ‘Bash & Bop’, Tommy Stinson’s re-formed, post-Replacements project. I was lucky enough to catch up with the band’s front man, Nate Cook, before the show, who described to me how the band was expanding their sound for these show dates and some new material they are currently working on for an August release with the edition of a few electric guitars. I was definitely ready for this night.
The band did not disappoint the Troubadour crowd. In fact, they took it about ten levels of aggression further than they did when I saw them last. The band threw it all to the wall with a set that I didn’t want to see come to an end, adding an unrestrained, almost southern bluesy element on this night that I hadn’t heard before. The Yawpers are undefinable, amorphous, and wonderfully defy the cliché characterizations and compartmentalizations that run rife in an industry that has grown stale and superficial, lacking in originality, creativity, and downright craziness in any meaningful and literate sense. You are truly missing out on all this band has to offer by trying to stuff what they do into some arbitrary category or genre designed for simple minds. They exist in spite of artificial perimeters. One of the only active band of musicians that I’ve come across that subscribe purely to only themselves while giving the world a good, hearty fuck-you-if-you-don’t-like-it send off. It’s awesome and liberating. Finally I can breathe again in this business.
See this band as often as you can.
There’s way too much at stake not to see them play, and play . . . and play.