Like any party the nerves are out in force in advance of the event. Will people turn up? Will everyone have a good time? Am I wearing the right clothes? Why did I decide to throw this stupid do in the first place? The self doubt is only natural as the launch party is really important to us. This is where we find out if people warm to the new songs or not. At this gig we are doing something that many bands at our level dare not do. Am I punching above my already self inflated ego? Deciding to schedule ourselves in for a full 1 hour 30 minute set with only a solo acoustic support act and a poet. No other bands. Is it too much?
We all arrived at Bad Apples in Leeds at 6.30pm straight from work. Just a quick half hour at home to get changed and showered. No time for a meal. We load into the venue and set up. There’s no sound guy or promoter. It’s all down to us. That’s how we like it. During sound check I experience the most horrific headache. I snap at the band and storm out of the room after playing one of our songs. Dave asks if I’m alright. I tell him no. I head off out of the venue and find a local co-op. Where’s this headache come from? Is it nerves? Is it the heat? Is it that I’ve not eaten? I purchase a really healthy looking pre-packaged Salmon, potato salad type thing. I’d much rather one that I’ve prepped myself but I’m desperate here. I also picked up some flavoured water and also some paracetamol. At the counter I spy some almonds and pistachio nuts which I also take. I walk back up the the venue and sit outside on the floor to eat the food. It tastes so good. My headache is still raging. I wait until I’ve finished my food before taking the paracetamol. Whilst eating, some of my friends arrive Cav and Rachael. I feel like I didn’t greet them properly or acknowledge them as I should do and later I apologise to them. They said not to worry but did recognise that I seemed quite unusual. After eating I go back inside the venue only to be greeted with Vince doing his sound check and the most awful squeal of feedback as I enter the room. “For fucks sake” I screamed out. Dempsey laughs and orders me out of the room. I go back upstairs and sit with Neil Vary. Neil is a photographer who has come to cover the show tonight. He has captured some amazing shots of us at previous gigs and so I invited him down. It’s good to see him although I do still feel very unsociable, I’m hoping he doesn’t think I’m being rude but I’m real pain. I explain that I’m not feeling too good.
At 8pm I take the position on the door and await people to arrive. I notice that my headache is starting to fade as I munch on my almonds. I’m pleased with the amount of people early doors. I start some music through the P.A. system of a playlist I’d compiled featuring artists that I feel best represent the new album. Bands like Fugazi, Blaggers I.T.A., Nick Cave, Fucked Up, and even some Buena Vista Social Club.
Around 8.45 The Rebel Poet David Holmes takes to the stage. He’s sounding pretty sharp tonight and the crowd seem to love him. He blasts through four or five poems before introducing Vince Cayo. This was one of the best times I’ve seen Vince play. His guitar sounded lovely. He played well and I had a few people coming up to me asking where I had found him. Towards the end of his set the room is pretty much full and people seem to be set for a good night. Vince asks The Yalla Yallas to join him for his last song which is a cover of Social Distortion’s 'Ball And Chain'. I take up Bass duties. Dempsey is wisely paying attention in the crowd to the sound levels and taking notes for when we go onstage in 20 minutes or so.
After Vince there’s a break and people head out for beers, smokes, and pisses. The room is red hot. This is going to be hard work. My headache is long gone and I’ve started drinking my first drink of the night. I’d ordered a Red Stripe, and a rum and coke. I like to have a beer with me on stage for the gig but I like a rum and coke before going on to give me a little sugar and alcohol boost. We prepare the stage and David Holmes jumps back on the mic to read a few more poems. We all stand behind him. I’m trying to acclimatise to the heat on stage. It’s so hot. Everyone is back inside again now and it’s only going to get warmer.
The Rebel Poet finishes his set with ‘Oxygen’ which is a cover of Blaggers I.T.A. and introduces to the stage. We start as promised by playing the new album ‘Medusa’ in order and in its entirety. This is the first time I’ve played my new guitar in public. I recently purchased a gorgeous Gretsch electromatic in Georgia Green. The sound for the first song 'Mi Corazon Part 1' disappoints me and I remembered that I’d altered my settings for the other songs and forgot to change them back. Too late. Ah well not to worry. No one seems to mind. I’ll put it down after this song anyway. We smash through 'Venus', 'Asylum', and 'Co-Exist'. The room is feeling pretty lively. Some people are already singing along. It’s time to pick up the guitar again for ‘Mental’ I love this song. It’s a story of a trip to Paris with my best friend Thomas Pollock. The Rebel Poet joins us towards the end of the song to recite my poem ‘Schroedingers Cat’ over the coda. I manage to snap a string on my guitar. At first I’m not sure which string but this could knacker the next song or two. Whilst playing I notice its the Top E. I’m relieved as I can live without that string. The next song I play solo while the band take a minute to breathe. Its a gentle number called ‘Mentira’ I’m missing a string but it doesn't affect things too much. The crowd are still buzzing from the high energy Rock n' Roll of the previous songs but by the second verse they are very attentive. I’m surprised to hear people singing along to the calmest/most un-Yallas sounding song on the record. I’m amazed. For logistic purposes we briefly go out of sequence with the album. We opt to play the album closer 'Mi Corazon Part 2' next. This is because it’s that last time I will use the guitar tonight. This song has somehow turned into a behemoth. I found on my phone after the show that my friend sent me a message telling me that it made her cry and was truly beautiful. Joel’s drumming was unbelievable. He kept finding more and more space as we lifted the song higher. Near the end of the song I switch into one of my solo songs ‘Burned’. It was such an emotional track and I must admit I got quite lost in it.
I put the guitar away and then we kick into side 2. 'Medusa', 'Sound Of The Kraken', 'County Court' all seem to get everybody moving and into fine voice too. I’m overwhelmed and knackered. This is hard work. The temperature is boiling. During ‘I Want To Be Loved’ I get a cramp in my right leg. I try and stretch it out. After that there is only one song left to do from the album and that is ‘Ik Hou Van Kaassouffle’ a song that I wrote in Dutch. Vince Cayo joins me on vocals. We encourage the crowd to join in too. I’m amazed at how pretty much everyone joins in with the cries of ‘Lekker, Lekker’. It’s insane. The album was now complete. I ask my friend William in the crowd what his favourite Yallas song was. He replied with ‘Under Attack’ and we play it for him and again I’m chuffed with the crowd singing along. I try and walk around the crowd a bit but because it's just so full I find it easier just to remain onstage. Though I do feel pretty caged in. As usual during ‘Credit Card Crunch’ I strip down to my pants. Only this time its so hot in the room that I genuinely can’t get out of them and had to rip them off of me. Maybe I'd left them on too long? People were laughing at my attempts. “Clothes are rubbish anyway, I’m going home naked” I shout out. The next song is ‘Retaliation’ and I was left stunned. Will Grinder started the song quietly with chugging of the chords and I gently sing the chorus and I couldn't believe it when the crowd in force took over from me. Every single word sung loud and clear. I was just left stunned. I stood there grinning. It was a moment I wish to savour forever. I hope I can remember that until the day I die. The final song is our regular finisher ‘Rock n' Roll Kid’ as ever it was energetic, brutal, and so much fun.
I genuinely loved every second of it. All the nerves were for nothing. As everyone left the room I stood by the door and shook hands with pretty much everyone that I could. I hope they know what it meant to me. In the hours after the show we joined people for drinks upstairs. I received so many text messages from people who had to run for the bus etc… telling me how much of a good time they had. I manage to find my jeans and I walked round the rest of the night only wearing one leg as the other was torn off during my stripping routine.
What an amazing night. So much love for everyone. Thank you to you all for coming. Let’s do it again.
The Yalla Yallas - https://www.facebook.com/theyallayallasleeds/
Vince Cayo - https://www.facebook.com/animalchinmusic/
Photo - Neil Vary Gig Photography
Words - Rob Galloway