Attempting to describe Yves Tumor to a stranger on an elevator, I told them the band was like a psychedelic Prince. This is a bit reductive, but a compliment to all parties nonetheless. Yves Tumor is much more than an artist to be compared to anyone in such definitive terms. Yves Tumor deals in abstracts and pushing boundaries beyond definitions and comparisons. Yes, there’s elements of sunshine psych and vintage hard rock riffage; yes, they broke out into an ode to Faith No More’s “Be Aggressive” at one moment of their OC Observatory set; and yes, they’ve cultivated all the murky plummets of the Jungian shadow to make themselves much more than a band of humans, they’re something transcendent when they take a stage. Yves’ singer, a mystery man conspicuously named Sean Bowie, created music to escape from his dull, conservative surroundings as a young adult. With so much art pouring out of him, the last two signifiers that come to mind when staring at him onstage are “dull” or “conservative”. Sean Bowie is a living enigma, transcending categories to exist simply as art itself. Or more colloquially, Sean Bowie is art’s spirit animal.
Yves was the main act of the evening. A DJ lubricated the crowd before they took the stage but out of the Gen Z broth the DJ stirred up, Yves Tumor created a soup for all kinds of psychedelic and surrealistic sonic imagery that every boy and girl could eat right up. With songs that bounced back and forth from chillers to thrillers, psych to art rock to dance punk, making one’s heart beat mellow and race, the band covered a large spectrum of moods, vibes, and disorders.
There was plenty of gender bending present this evening from the audience but even though you couldn’t always identify whether one person was clearly male or female, the masculine energy in the guitar playing was clear as day. The solos and riffage captured the same masculine energy that made rock and roll so powerful in the Led Zeppelin era. In fact, a sort of Robert Plant and Jimmy Page dynamic is created onstage between Sean Bowie and guitarist, Chris Greatti.
Femininity is present in the music too, in this sort of chthonian murk that shrouds each member and obscures their features until you reach moments where you have to convince yourself you’re watching flesh and bone humans perform this magical ritual for everyone. The band’s female backup singer and bassist, Gina Ramirez, gives the music a woman’s voice in many songs, however the marriage of the male and female perspectives allows the whole operation to transcend into music coming from the collective perspective rather than a gendered one. The song of the universe, if you will.
Yves Tumor is one of the most interesting bands of our time. As much as everyone loves to dance and sing along to their music or imitate Sean Bowie’s fashion or imagine they’re Chris Greatti onstage, I can’t help but be most intrigued with the prospect of what artistic move they’ll make next to push their band deeper into the avant garde. I want to see more colors and shapes painted upon Sean Bowie, more insane clothes draped upon him, I want musical twists and turns that I could never expect. I got plenty of this at the Orange County Observatory but I want more. WE NEED MORE. I ask for these things because I know Yves Tumor has much more to give.
Words by: Rob Shepyer
Photos by: Michelle Corvino