Concert Review: Yumi Zouma @ Black Cat (4/9/22)

Yumi Zouma (Photo Credit: Nick Grennon)
Yumi Zouma (Photo Credit: Nick Grennon)

Dream pop lives!

Yumi Zouma embodies every aspect of dream pop, all in a good way. The New Zealand band came to DC on April 9th to showcase their atmospheric music and upbeat choruses to a nearly full Black Cat.

It is always good to be back at the Cat, the first time I had made it since before the pandemic, and it was encouraging to see so many excited fans of the band arriving early to also catch the opener, NoSo.

The last time Yumi Zouma performed to a DC crowd was the day before the city shut down for COVID-19 (March 12, 2020 at DC9), to promote their third album, Truth or Consequences. That was the last concert I attended for a year and a half. Now, just over two years later, we come full circle, as they are touring for their fourth album, Present Tense (via Polyvinyl), released in March. I’ve reviewed Yumi Zouma three times before (see 2017 and 2020), so if you’re not on board yet I don’t know what else to say! I’ll probably think of something.

The New Zealand indie pop band is Christie Simpson (vocals, keyboards), Josh Burgess (vocals, guitar, bass, etc.), Charlie Ryder (guitar, bass, keyboards, etc.), and Olivia Campion (drums).

They kicked off the show with “Southwark”, about the imperfection of love. The microphone seemed a bit imperfect as well, so the music initially overwhelmed Christie’s voice. It improved after a short time, and her voice came through bright and brazen most of the evening.

Later they played “Where The Light Used To Lay”, the first of five songs from Present Tense, about trying to find the old light from a fading relationship.

After deftly executing a couple of their classics, Christie teased ‘You might know this one… “In Camera”.’ to which the crowd got perceptibly more animated with the clapping and cheering.

There was something in the Black Cat air that evening, heaps of people were smiling and enjoying themselves (presumably) in the form of dancing and swaying to the melodically sweeping pop rhythms. The band seemed especially keen and good as gold, using a bit of slang, to be performing in DC again. They used a range of colors to light the stage, but the one that stood out was the bold lilac hue, and therefore I shall associate this show, as with April in DC, with flowers and pinkish purple.

Four of the final five songs in the main set came from Present Tense, that other song is among my all-time favorites by them however, “December” from their second album Willowbank. It just makes me happy. Of the new ones, “Give It Hell” is an earnest plea to keep fighting in the face of adversity. Again Christie sang emphatically, and the rest of the band matched her intensity. This song should probably be our collective mantra going forward. ‘And when you hear hope is gone, from those who you keep so dear, don’t give out, I would shout all night to fight that fire here.’

They ended with “Astral Projection”, their strongest single from Present Tense, with its deep, ethereal notes that transport you to a faraway place.

The encore left us with “Bruise” and one of their oldest songs “The Brae”. Then Yumi Zouma were gone. A short afterglow set in, followed by sadness it was over, followed by leaving and a desire to own Present Tense. Unfortunately the merch table didn’t have CDs for sale, so the sadness intensified, along with my resolve to buy it later and make sure I’m at the next Yumi Zouma concert in DC.

Setlist

  1. Southwark
  2. Crush (It’s Late, Just Stay)
  3. Truer Than Ever
  4. Powder Blue / Cascine Park
  5. Where The Light Used To Lay
  6. Cool For a Second
  7. Right Track, Wrong Man
  8. In Camera
  9. Depths (Pt. I)
  10. Give It Hell
  11. In the Eyes of Our Love
  12. December
  13. Mona Lisa
  14. Astral Projection

Encore

  1. Bruise
  2. The Brae

Author: Jeremy Bailey

Writer and editor living in Washington, D.C.

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