Under the brightly colored spotlights, new-wave blues artist Yellow Days brought his old-school howl to Slim’s on Wednesday night. The 19-year-old intense-indie-feels singer George van den Broek put on a small scale, big sound sold-out show for the multigenerational audience.
Van den Broek wore an airy graphic tee of a cow that read, “Holy cow!” and a classic belted, high-waisted jeans look. His teardrop-shaped, baby blue guitar cemented his vintage aesthetic. If the black X’s drawn across his hands weren’t enough to speak on the impressive youngness of the soul-ridden vocalist, his baby-faced presence did the trick.
While performing “A Little While,” the British performer’s eyes twinkled with a positively dopey look, as if he were comfortably performing in his own living room to a group of close friends. To complete this serene image, an audience member reached up to give the ponytail-wearing singer a bunch of small sunflowers, which bassist Hector Clark quickly stuck in the oversized pocket of his jeans.
The singer’s gritty rasp came alive on “Your Hand Holding Mine.” Hearing his voice live was remarkably true to the sound of his recorded tracks, showing the organicness of Yellow Days’ style. The band as a whole was so expressive during this song that van den Broek could have never said a word and listeners would’ve still been satisfied just from the instrumental performance.
Introducing a new song by saying, “Shit’s gonna be awkward,” van den Broek began the tune of “What’s It All For?” The song was released online this past Friday, and the group played the new track with a lively passion. Van den Broek wrote the song with his bassist, and the dedication to the melodic track could be seen on the faces of every musician on stage — especially keyboardist Ollie Cadman, who swayed his head back and forth as the music surged through him while he played his solo.
With a punchy, “Enough of that smooth shit,” van den Broek began the fan-favorite “Gap in the Clouds.” The song was played with backward veracity, as the low-key tune proved to be nothing but low-key. Each beat of the drums and lick from the bass was played with intention and drive.
The young singer very appropriately did a cover of Etta James’ “I’d Rather Go Blind,” getting in touch with the old-soul blues genre he is inspired by. Gripping his belt buckle and belting the gripping lyrics, van den Broek brought a modern howl to the 1968 jazz classic. The trumpet blazed, ending the song on a dazed trade of solos between the musicians.
Van den Broek had a comical stage presence throughout the show, not really caring about how people perceived him as a performer. “Who likes smoking weed?” he said to introduce “The Tree I Climb” to the crowd. “Me too. This song is about smoking weed and feeling sad about a girl, which is a nutshell of my life,” he said. He took a commanding sip from his 7UP can before the end began.
The last song before the encore, “How Can I Love You?” was a smooth jazz tune starting with an elegant, coffeehouse keyboard intro. This song, released in September, proved the uniqueness of van den Broek’s vintage style in comparison to other artists of his age.
The band left the stage, but only for a short time, coming back out to play “A Bag of Dutch.” Van den Broek cheekily hid behind an amp, playing a dorky game of peek-a-boo with the audience members cheering throughout the venue. Once he took his spot back at the mic, he said, “I was only joking guys, what the fuck. I ain’t got shit to do,” before starting the final song.
Considering the quality of Yellow Days’ performance at such a young age, it’s only telling how much potential the artist has for the future of modern jazz.