Show Review: Yussef Dayes and His Band

Author: Svetlana Sohoni

Over spring break, I stayed with my parents in my childhood home and my dad asked me if I would like to go see a drummer, Yussef Dayes, that he had been following from London and his band. I quickly agreed but did not have any expectations having never previously heard of the band. The show was in a small venue I had never heard of in Menlo Atherton, an affluent area I had spent little time in previously. When we first walked in, a DJ was onstage and although it was fun at first, after the first hour and a half my legs hurt and I was losing interest quickly. 

Finally Yussef Dayes and his band came on and graced us with their presence. They were a colorful set of musicians all dressed very differently from one another bringing lots of character to the stage. There was a keyboard player, who could hardly be seen behind multiple keyboards he was surrounded by, a saxophone player, Yussef Dayes front and center, a bass player, and another percussionist. It’s rare to have a drummer be front and center for a show but I quickly understood why. This band was one of the tightest, most in sync bands I have ever seen. They were so beautifully in touch with one another at one stage and were completely laser focused on not losing the beat as they counted through periods of silence.

Their music is Jazz mixed with contemporary aspects of synth on the keyboard, paired beautifully with traditional African percussion. The band said very little but their music spoke for itself and grabbed everyone’s attention. No one was having side conversations and there were few phones out recording. Everyone’s attention was laser focused on the band and the magic that was being created in front of our eyes.

Yussef himself was impressive and skilled in his leadership of the band. One of the most interesting parts of his drum set was the set of roto-toms which he turned with one hand while hitting it with the other so that it changed in pitch. He looked like he was enjoying himself through the whole show and even played through a bleeding blister on his hand towards the end of the set. Everyone else was as skilled as Yussef himself and carried the music expertly.

The bass player, Rocco Palladino stood out to me from the beginning because of his intricate rhythmic solos. Rocco is the son of Pino Palladino, the esteemed bass player who has played for everyone from Nine Inch Nails to The Who. Rocco certainly lived up to his family name and was a pleasure to watch up close. The saxophone player came on and off stage through the set and danced all along the front of the stage bringing lots of energy to the crowd. At the same time the keyboard player’s funky use of synth and effects on his keys added a modern aspect to the music which beautifully contrasted the traditional African percussion on the left hand on the stage.

The percussionist added beautiful elements to layer on top of Dayes drumming through his use of chimes and traditional shakers. Although it went mostly under the radar due to the fact that Yusef Dayes was front and center, when you paid close attention, the traditional instruments added a much-needed layer.

Overall, this band was a pleasant surprise and a breath of fresh air. I never would have gone if my dad had not taken me but would definitely see them again in the future. It also made me gain appreciation for purely instrumental shows as I often go see bands for singers and appreciate lyrics. Seeing Dayes and his band was proof that instruments can speak for themselves.

 

Svetlana Sohoni |KXSU Music Reporter|

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