Music, News, Review

Yonaka @ Manchester Academy 2 review – Dark alt-pop trio pack a powerful punch

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Featured image and gallery: Gracie Hall


Belgium-born Mimi Barks’ entrance makes an immediate visual impression, donning an impressive fur coat and fishnet mask. Guttural screams into the mic further pique the crowd’s interest, before Barks sings and raps in her native German for trap-metal opener ‘Klingen & Stitches’.

Her drummer, Charles Evans, sports gothic face paint, black smudged eyes and a chalky white face, complimenting Mimi’s aesthetic. This set is ‘stripped down’ for Barks as her guitarist couldn’t make the tour, but this doesn’t stop the full force of her songs being translated in a live setting. Throwing off her coat and mask to parade around stage and onto a platform at the front, Barks also showcases heavier new single ‘FSU’.

Three-piece NOISY are next, displaying clear influences from the likes of The Prodigy and The Chemical Brothers. Frontman Cody Matthews leads an energetic set with support from guitarist/producer Spencer Tobias-Williams and Connor Cheetham on synths and further guitar. Taking a break from their setlist to spray paint ‘MCR IS NOISY’ which gets thrown into the crowd, these lads are here to make an impression.

‘DESIRE’ is a standout, with its encouraging lyrics (“We won’t let go, We won’t let go, I feel desire”) and uplifting beats that wouldn’t be out of place at a summer festival set. During their final song, ‘ALL OF U’, Matthews jumps into the crowd, asking everyone to crouch down before jumping and dancing to the infectious beats of its final chorus.

Yonaka, a self-proclaimed dark alt-pop trio, finally take to the stage. ‘By The Time You’re Reading This’ opens the set with the band’s renowned high energy. Lead singer Theresa Jarvis commands the stage, her raspy vocals carrying every song with its incredible emphasis of emotion.

‘Greedy’ is an angry song, a middle finger to those glutinous, selfish people who are in control of other people. Jarvis practically spits the song out, while guitarist George Edwards and bassist Alex Crosby match Jarvis’ strong presence and touring drummer, Jay Cobain, backs the trio up. ‘Hands Off My Money’ is a passionate feminist anthem, about taking back the rewards you reap from your own hard work as a woman in the industry. 

Jarvis is a strong role model for younger and older women alike; she isn’t afraid to show her rage towards patriarchy and use her music to share how it negatively impacts her. She also isn’t afraid to speak on her mental health as she introduces ‘PANIC’, detailing the lived experience of having a panic disorder. ‘Welcome To My House’ is another self-admitted dive into the singer’s mind, she explains its about “dealing with negative self-thoughts and then realising no, I am a good person”. goo

The room shares an intimate moment during the stripped-down ‘Give Me My Halo’, providing stark contrast to crowd surfers and mosh pits that appear during ‘I Want More’ and beyond. Yonaka’s most recent single, ‘Predator’, is heavy and highly impactful, with the electronic and techno feel of an Ashnikko track mixed with Yonaka’s own heavy rock sound. It’s fresh and new but still maintains the band’s core identity, translating well live. The evening ends with fan favourite ‘Seize The Power’, an impactful song to round out an impactful evening.


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Gracie Hall

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