For nearly 10 years, Jona Bechtolt and Claire L. Evans have been combining music and interactive performances as the band YACHT, where they hone in on offbeat, electronic-tinged pop songs, often within a barrage of multimedia presentations. As you might suspect with a band named after a luxury boat, the desires to explore their own boundaries as artists has led to some memorable gigs all over the globe. Hive asked the band to crack open their travel journals and pour over their passport stamps, for a list of the five more unusual places they’ve ever played.
1. An Actual Yacht
Evans: In 2007, we held a record release party on an actual yacht on the Willamette River in our hometown of Portland, Oregon. It was called the “Crystal Dolphin.” Far too many people came, we set the P.A. on fire, Jona crowd-surfed in the low-ceiling boat and the captain himself scolded us for not wearing life jackets. We organized the entire thing ourselves; it was a profoundly empowering experience to take back the association our band name has with this kind of commodified luxury.
2. A Bathroom
Evans: In the early days of YACHT, Jona played a show in a kid’s bathroom in suburban St. Louis. He stood on the toilet while the audience crowded in the hall.
3. A Nightclub on the Tibetan Plateau, in Xining, China
Bechtolt: In 2009, we did a two-week tour in China, riding on hard-back trains, exploring remote monasteries and visiting towns in China where we played to audiences that had never seen white people before, let alone two white people in a conceptual multimedia band. This was a catalytic period for us in a lot of ways. We realized the visceral power of subculture, even in places where the government has so much control over people’s lives; kids there were kids like anywhere else, hungry to experience difference and freedom. When we played in Xining, a dozen police officers in full riot gear protected our stage from the audience, going so far as to try to help Claire back up when she jumped off the stage and handing us towels when we sweat. We had to literally break through riot police to make physical contact with the people who’d come to see us. It was a surreal enactment of the audience-performer divide. It allowed us to walk the walk.
4. At the Apple campus in Cupertino, California
Evans: We played a lunchtime show to about 100 Apple employees, all seated, some working on their computers, most of them eating free Quizno’s, in the atrium of a brightly-lit office building in the middle of the afternoon. This was essentially the ultimate challenge: How do you turn an environment like this into a real experience? How do you bring punk to the entire FinalCut Pro team? We leaned hard into it, and we transcended.
5. At the Hollywood Bowl, with the Chemical Brothers
Bechtolt: Of this list, the Hollywood Bowl is the most traditional rock and roll context, but it was undoubtedly the most surreal venue we have ever played. We struggled to understand how bands can possibly project themselves into so much space, to so many people. We experimented with our approach, enlisting a dance troupe and a drum corps to fill out the live band. The experience probably ended up being more visual than visceral, but we learned a great deal.
YACHT’s newest album, Shangri-La, is out now on DFA Records.