Concert Review: Yumi Zouma @ DC9 (3/12/20)

Yumi Zouma
Yumi Zouma (Photo from: Aaron Lee)

‘This is a very special show! Christie, do you want to tell them why?” – Josh Burgess of Yumi Zouma

‘Because it is probably the first and only show of the tour!’ – Christie Simpson

New Zealand’s Yumi Zouma came to DC9 on March 12th to kick off their U.S. tour in support of their third album, Truth or Consequences (via Polyvinyl Record Co.).

The good news, they played a great show in DC, the lucky city, with LA’s Magdalena Bay opening.

The bad news, now they have to return home and cancel the remaining tour dates due to the coronavirus pandemic. And, this was one of the last concerts held in DC, after the Mayor put the restrictions on large gatherings in place. DC9 fell under the initial size limit, so we got the gift of one last amazing show.

Truth or Consequences was released on March 13th, but DC9 proved to be the album’s de facto release party. The show was sold out long before, and not many people skipped it.

Magdalena Bay (Mica Tenenbaum (vocals) and Matthew Lewin (vocals, production)) played their first ever DC concert, giving the eager crowd an exuberant pop set of 11 songs. Both wore matching white outfits peppered with visions of aliens and the band’s moniker. They also just released a new EP, A Little Rhythm and a Wicked Feeling. Check them out!

Yumi Zouma performs the dreamiest electropop songs you can imagine. Words I definitely wanted to include in this review were, ‘shimmering’ and ‘lovely’.

Yumi Zouma started in 2014, and is comprised of Christie Simpson (vocals, keyboards), Josh Burgess (vocals, guitar, bass, etc.), Charlie Ryder (guitar, bass, keyboards, etc.) and a newer member, Olivia Campion (drums).

They kicked off with the funky “Bruise”, then delved into “Southwark” from Consequences, the first opportunity I can use ‘shimmering’ to describe the production and their performance, so I will. Another new song, “Cool For a Second” sounded ‘lovely’ (I’m not waiting to use it!), about dealing with the aftermath of heartbreak as time passes.

They performed five songs from the new album, and 16 overall, and I lament not buying a copy from the merch table. Will correct that.

Occasionally Josh would sing a verse, or pitch in his backing vocals, but both he and Charlie kept switching sides of the stage, trading off keyboards and instruments. I’m sure there was a brilliant system in play, I only remember seeing Josh in front of me, then Charlie, then Josh, and on. Finally, I just focused on Christie in the middle, dancing and somehow not getting in the way of the ‘system’.

Midway through they played the very old (2014) and groovy “Sålka Gets Her Hopes Up”, about trying to hold on to someone, a song that came before Christie joined the band in 2015. With her version, and the next song, “Powder Blue / Cascine Park”, Christie’s easygoing singing delivery and bell clear voice came through, and elicited a level of buoyant joy from those pressed to the front of DC9’s intimate stage.

Of course, all songs they performed that night achieved this result, like “Yesterday”, one of my favorite songs by them. It was also the only entry from their first album, Yoncalla, which is superb. I’d lament that album’s omission more if their new songs weren’t so good as well.

Christie introduced their latest single, “Right Track / Wrong Man”, as ‘something that we can all relate to, as it’s happened to most of us’, also about recovering from a breakup, with a great hook and drum line, where Olivia was making good things happen in the back on her kit.

Ending the always too short main set, they exited through the dense crowd, and returned to DC9’s stage to anticipatory applause, giving us two more songs. Christie got cool down on the dance floor for a second, lost in the crowd. Then Charlie did the same, as they ended all live music in DC for months with “Alena”, another early single from 2014, the beat driving most of us into a heady mix of dance and barely contained swaying.

People exited knowing they witnessed something special, but may only realize just how special in hindsight.

I could have saved posting this review for a rainy day given the current lack of concerts on the horizon, but it rained last night, so no more excuses.

If you don’t have a copy of Truth or Consequences, you need one! Get it before the option to buy CDs and albums is diminished even more. Or just do like most people* these days, and buy the digital version!

Depths (Pt. I)
Cool For a Second
Crush (It’s Late, Just Stay)
Truer Than Ever
Sålka Gets Her Hopes Up
Powder Blue/Cascine Park
Lonely After
The Brae
Right Track / Wrong Man

In Camera

* Look, think what you will, I still buy plenty of the physical CDs. Old habits and stubbornness are not easy to dismiss.

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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