CHON and Yvette Young: Gig Review

I’m a huge math rock fan. It goes with the whole emo thing I guess. There’s something about the weird, ever-changing time signatures and overly complicated, showy guitar riffs that I find oddly relaxing although I am fully aware of the pretentiousness of it all. This gig showed me that math rock is more than just the fancy guitars and obnoxious time signatures – there can be a sweet, easy-to-listen-to side to it as well.

And there’s no band I find more chilled than CHON. The So-Cal emo, mathy band from San Diego, CHON have just released their second full length album, Homey. The singles for which feature skateboarding dogs and 8-bit style graphics in their music videos. They had me at skateboarding dog.

First though, I was incredibly excited when CHON announced Yvette Young was going to be touring with them in the UK. Yvette plays in the math rock band Covet, but has also released her own solo acoustic EPs. She’s incredibly talented – a singer, a pianist, a guitarist, an artist… – and also very sweet and likeable on stage. Her set was only half an hour or so, but it was half an hour of beautiful, soothing vocals and acoustic guitar riffs. If you aren’t familiar with Covet, or her solo work, I’d recommend you check out these videos. Her most famous song, A Map, A String, A Light, was played last. Seven minutes of incredible guitar playing and haunting vocals. She writes both parts beautifully.

CHON opened their set with Sleepy Tea – the main single from Homey – and from then on pretty much every song was a crowd pleaser. They switched effortlessly between dreamy, tapping phrases and more heavy chord-based progressions. Their set was more or less without rest, only the odd pause for a brief song introduction or thank you. This meant the music flowed really well from track to track.

Every member of CHON is ridiculously talented. The drummer skips between fast-paced tom solos to more mellow cymbal work. The bassist plays lines that both complement the guitar and drums and stand up on their own. And the guitars… A guy walked past me whilst I was waiting for the venue to open and I heard him say ‘Oh, it’s mostly just going to be guitarists wanking off.’ This was a completely fair assumption to make but it doesn’t change the fact that Mario and Erik are two extremely skillful guitarists who manage to strike a good balance between variation and a cohesive sound. But yeah, point taken.

This was the first math rock gig I’ve been to and I hope it won’t be the last. Yvette Young and CHON worked really well together to create something special.



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