Wild Yaks. Having never seen or heard the band before, I went in completely fresh, with no idea of what to expect. The quartet played an indie centric Americana rock with plenty of punk spirit and soul. The singer's scruffy voice and matching look add a heaping sense of grit to their music, reminding me of a grizzled and more passionate version of recent Titus Andronicus. The band's frequent use of gang vocals from all four members were fantastic, creating the kind of cheerful drunken atmosphere you'd wish was always present. It's always great to see a band fully immersed in their music, and Wild Yaks were definitely in the zone despite the early afternoon set. The band will release their sophomore album Million Years in November through Ernest Jennings Record Co. before heading out on tour with like-minded label mates O'Death.
The Intelligence (currently on tour with King Tuff) were next to take the stage, mixing the bizarre and jangly to great results. Frontman Lars Finberg was busy cracking jokes throughout the unofficial CMJ set, as he announced to the decently sized crowd, "When CMJ called and begged us to play and asked what time we wanted to go on, we naturally said 4:30. They said no one would come, but we're proving them wrong". The band got off to a bit of a rough start with some technical difficulties and guitars cutting out, but that only prompted the naturally charismatic Finberg to let us all know something along the lines of, "when CMJ called and asked what kind of equipment we wanted to use, we naturally told them only the very best, because our pedals are the worst". After a second less than stellar song, Finberg joked, "what song can we mangle next?" The mangling however was done, and the band found their footing and started showing why they're one of the best in the garage scene. The band showcased songs from this year's fantastically titled Everybody's Got It Easy But Me, including "Evil Is Easy," "Hippy Provider," "The Entertainer," the punchy "(They Found Me On The Back Of) The Galaxy," as well as the fuzzy groove of older highlights like "Dating Cops". The band were alive and blowing minds. The gradual climb toward exceptional show was obvious to the crowd and band, as Finberg laughed, "You have to admit we got better as we went along," before pausing slightly before adding, "you do have to admit that... loudly, one by one." They truly had and by the end of the set all I could think about was when I may be able to see them again.