If you don’t know (and really you should), yacht rock refers to a genre of music popular in the 70s and 80s. It had high production, smooth vocals, a jazzy/r&b/pop sound, and memorable melodies. It wasn’t until the 2000s when the term yacht rock was actually coined though. It was a tongue in cheek way of referring to the stereotypical music that yuppies listened to. Possibly on a yacht.
Yacht Rock Revue formed in 2007 as cover band specializing in the genre. Since then they’ve gone from playing in small clubs to large amphitheaters. They’ve even performed with the bands they’ve covered. Now they’re on a nationwide tour. I love yacht rock! It’s fun and catchy. I can dance to it or hum along at my work desk. It just makes me feel good. When I saw that YRR was playing at August Hall in San Francisco, I knew I had to check them out. And I wasn’t disappointed.
Yacht Rock Revue doesn’t take itself seriously, yet it’s a serious band. They may come out in 70s clothes, floral print shirts and tight bell bottoms. But this isn’t a joke group and they’re not half-assing it out there. All seven members of the band play their instruments. This is all live, no backing track. They’re using their own vocals with almost every member getting a turn on lead. They all sound great doing it, by the way. You can see that the band has a deep appreciation for the music.
That feeling flowed out into the audience. It was a wide mix of people. Different generations, races, social groups, etc. But everyone was into it. Several people were wearing captain’s hats and other nautical attire. And they were all (yacht) rocking out to the show. Dancing and singing along. There was good energy going around.
Over the course of a two hour(!!) set YRR covered almost every singer or band associated with the genre: Hall & Oates, The Doobie Brothers, Steely Dan, Toto, Kenny Loggins, Christopher Cross, Looking Glass, The Commodores, and a host of others. My favorite moments/songs were “Rich Girl”, “Peg”, “Turn Your Love Around”, “Escape (The Pina Colada Song)”, and “Easy”. There were a few songs I wasn’t as familiar with, but I still managed to get down to them. My one quibble was the inclusion of the Bee Gee’s “Stayin Alive”. That’s much more disco than yacht rock.
After taking a very quick break, the group came out for an encore. Journey’s “Lights” was a nice ode to the San Francisco venue and had people in the crowd putting their arms around each other and swaying. Then the band came to the grand finale with an incredible rendition of Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street”. So many insane saxophone solos! It brought the house down (and the camera phones out). A fantastic end to an eventful night.