Electronic power trio Yak Attack plays McMenamins

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Yak Attack uses live loops, tight chops, and raw improvisation to build high-energy dance music that’s rooted in breakbeat, electro-funk and trip-hop. Credit: yakattackmusic.com

Live electronic power trio Yak Attack, hailing from Portland, is on the rise thanks to exuberant performances across the country that convert the most casual fans into followers. Their live show is musically sophisticated but widely accessible, and they’re supported by a growing army of engaged fans willing to make long drives for their next musical fix. Best described as “organic electronica,” Yak Attack uses live loops, tight chops, and raw improvisation to build high-energy dance music that’s rooted in breakbeat, electro-funk and trip-hop from scratch, where every uplifting note is played and recorded live.

Yak Attack was founded when Dave Dernovsek (keys), a Colorado/New York transplant with a competitive classical piano background, met Rowan Cobb (bass), who was building a name for himself in the Portland live music scene as a founding member of numerous successful touring bands. The two shared an interest in creating a livetronica project – Dave had been experimenting with various loop-based setups for years, and Rowan’s prior electronic band, Alpaca!, had just broken up. The two met Nick Werth (drums) at one of the group’s early shows. Nick had quickly built his musical reputation from his stellar abilities at the drum set, as well as his family connection to the band Snarky Puppy (his brother Nate plays percussion in that group, and Nick currently plays in Ghost Note, featuring Nate and Sput among other Snarky members). Initially a fan of the band, Nick was touring full time with local legend Scott Pemberton’s band, but found time to guest on percussion and xylosynth at various Yak Attack shows, laying down some tracks on the band’s first album, “Real World Conditions,” which was released in 2015. With the departure of the group’s original drummer in early 2016, Rowan and Dave asked Nick to take the drum set full time, and the current Yak Attack lineup was born.

Yak Attack’s 2018 album, “Safety Third,” was released via Philadelphia’s storied label, Ropeadope Records, founded by John Medeski. It embodies what they have become known for – a continuous DJ-style dance party played with all real instruments. Each track flows seamlessly into the next, and the mix of electro-funk, pop, and house is augmented by a world-class roster of guest musicians. The result is the band’s warmest and fullest-sounding record yet, with horns, strings, and winds complimenting signature pulsing synth-driven grooves. From the gritty opening riff of “Pump and Dump” to the infectious synth-pop vocals on “Hear the Sound,” to the full Yakestra wall of sound on “Eighth Wonder,” “Safety Third” is crafted to be an album you’ll want to listen to over and over again.

The band has performed at festivals like Treefort Fest, Joshua Tree Music Festival, WaveSpell, Summer Meltdown and Northwest String Summit, while also establishing itself as leaders of the after party following acts like Phish. They have shared the stage with STS9, Snarky Puppy, Fruition, Lotus, Sunsquabi, TAUK, Turkuaz as well as members of String Cheese Incident & Thievery Corporation, among many others.

Yak Attack plays the Spanish Ballroom at McMenamins Elks Tempe on Friday, Aug. 30. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the all-ages show starts at 8 p.m. Tickets are $10 advance, $15 day of show and available at https://tinyurl.com/y4uuutq4.

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