I had this show circled on my calendar for a few weeks, and by my calendar, I mean my Facebook events page. I have heard the name Yam Yam before, I’ve listened to them on their Bandcamp Page and have checked out a few live clips as well. I noticed them again when they popped up on Reddit. The sub r/ListenToThis had them at the top a few weeks ago and users from all over the world were digging the groove of Harrisburg-based Yam Yam.
Humandala Starts the Night Off Right
I was expecting a chill, relaxed show, and when I walked into the Abbey Bar upstairs after finishing a delicious Switchback burger downstairs, the venue was already packed. Opening band Humandala, also from Harrisburg, kicked off with a great set that I would describe as progressive reggae funk. That’s three genres of music that were fused together nicely, giving Humandala a real, Papadosio feel to them (another band you should listen to if you haven’t already). I could probably write this entire post about them, but I will save it for another time.
They host open mic at River City Blues Club on Feb. 8. Check out their Facebook page to keep up with them!
Time to Jam Jam with Yam Yam (it’s fun to say, try it!)
Let me just get it out of the way and tell you that Yam Yam is one of the best bands in the area. Of course, music is subjective; however, I haven’t been that entertained by a live performance in years. Stone cold sober I found myself dancing along with the rest of the crowd. I mean, how could I not? The sound was gigantic, huge, overwhelming! If there is any music loving bone in your body and you stand still while these guys play, check your pulse. These guys are funky!
Let’s dissect Yam Yam if we…Can Can. (ok, I’ll stop)
Yam Yam consists of Mike Dempsey on keys, Tom Fuller on guitar, Xander Moppin on bass, Tyler Fuller on drums, and Jason Mescia on sax.
These guys can play the hell out of their instruments and their collective music writing is phenomenal and clever. My fellow contributor Tierney summed them up nicely, “They jam the way Steely Dan jams — with artistic sense and not just stoner nonsense.” Well put, Tierney.
Part of their huge sound comes from Jason and his ability to know where and when to insert dynamic horns into the songs. I especially got a kick out of Mike on the keys. He is very animated on stage and would rap along to their version of Rappers Delight. He reminded me of a hype man at times, egging on the crowd to sing back at the band.
I also don’t think I’ve ever seen another person so happy to play bass than Xander. Smiling and grooving the entire time. It’s refreshing to see someone enjoying music that much. Tom is a smart guitar player. His styles are his own, and his chord structure and progressions stand out when they need to. It’s not overbearing like so many guitar players tend to be. You know the louder, center of attention types? I speak from experience. Kudos to Tom for a beautiful sounding guitar and not being any of those things.
Lastly, the backbone of any great band is their drummer. Tyler plays the drums with a great hip hop style to him, aside from actually covering hip hop songs, his hard-hitting style of playing (see previously mentioned loathing of soft hitting drummers) provided an excellent beat that pumped through speakers all night.
So What You’re Trying to Say is …
So what I’m saying is, simply put, go see Yam Yam. It’s a fun show, the music will make you dance, and the atmosphere they create will put a huge smile on your face. You can listen for yourself on their Bandcamp page and keep up with their shows on their Facebook page, which sadly and confusingly, does not list any upcoming shows. Hopefully the guys will be back out there soon.
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