Headliner Preview: YONAKA

The countdown to the first everl Neck of the Woods Festival continues (it’s this Sunday) so here’s a look at another of the headliners (in case you missed it, you can read our full preview post here, and another headliner-preview here.

YONAKA headline the festival’s second stage (The Adrian Flux Waterfront) and I’d say that’s a bold, brilliant choice. Not bold because there’s anything to doubt about the band: they are famously fierce and power-packed, and are incredible live musicians. But the Brighton-based four-piece offer something quite different from your average crowd-pleasing headliner.

Their music is presented through the amazing vocals of their powerhouse of a lead singer, Theresa Jarvis (who is backed by George Edwards on guitar, Alex Crosby on bass and keyboards, and Robert Mason on drums. Jarvis has spoken before about her own struggles with mental health issues – panic attacks which have sparked anxiety – and how music can be a huge healing influence. That side of music can definitely be heard and felt through YONAKA‘s music. 

What becomes clear when looking at YONAKA is that the band are firmly alternative rockers, and yet – not. There’s something much more than that. YONAKA‘s songs are often intensely personal and empowering. Their music combines heavy riffs and revitalising melodic twists. There are 80s synths and nu-metal power chords. It sometimes can feel like laser light emerging from darkness, and frequently turns in some excitingly unexpected directions. There’s an NME piece which at one point describes how this band fills in the lines of their shared vision with a “neon confidence”. Apart from being words I really wish I’d written, that expression sums up the YONAKA vibe so well.

That vibe is also one of relaxed rebelliousness and non-conformity which manifests in so many ways. For example, Jarvis recently demonstrated that she really can sing with an Instagram cover of Unchained Melody – I mean, how punk is that.

I really can’t wait to see and feel how this band fits at the end of a very mixed and interesting lineup – they follow on from Kawala, and before them Rats, Deco, The Royston Club, Stone and The Academic. It’s an eclectic line-up which seems to sum up the vision of NOTW.

Find out more about Yonka here and (if you’re quick) grab one of the final festival tickets via the NOTW website.

Words by Phil Taylor