“I can’t believe this guy is 18, he sings like a 300 year old wizard”, reads a YouTube comment left under Yellow Days’ Harmful Melodies EP. George van den Broek, the face of Yellow Days, released this project less than 3 years ago and has since become one of the indie scene’s most exciting contemporary artists.
Yellow Days’ success has not gone unnoticed. With only a few US tours and playing Tropicalia back to back years, the inevitable was coming. The band was asked to come back to the US and be a part of Coachella’s 2019 lineup, a feat like no other. Despite getting their acclaimed fame from online music publications left and right as well as being recommended on algorithms like YouTube and Spotify, Yellow Days doesn’t really post all that much on social media to anticipate his shows. He really doesn’t have to. His following is so immense and dedicated that people are on the tip of their toes to see this “300 year old wizard.” I had the honor to go a sold out Yellow Days show that went completely unannounced—no publicity—just a small show for those who couldn’t make it to Coachella.
On April 15, Yellow Days played the Yost Theatre in Santa Ana. I knew that the Yost Theatre was in downtown Santa Ana so in order to avoid any parking trouble or fees I made sure to arrive on time. At 8 p.m., an hour after doors opened, we found ourselves in a very crowded yet spacious venue, still with no idea about any opener or what time Yellow Days was actually going to perform. Only 30 minutes later, a rapper came on stage introducing himself as Maxo, ready to perform for us as our heads are in the clouds. Maxo seemed like a real genuine guy, committing to his conscious hip-hop and digging into people’s heads with his words. Much of what he was rapping about correlated to his personal struggles—the struggles within oneself and with their community. The Yost Theater had a huge screen projector behind the stage and Maxo took the opportunity to display his old family VHS tapes, reconcile the adolescent memories between him and his family. Surprising everyone at the show with not only his unknown appearance but the sensibility of his music, Maxo left a good impression on everyone and explained how much it meant for him to be there opening for a sold out crowd.
It was something new, something you wouldn’t usually encounter especially when at a show for an indie band. After Maxo had finished his performance, everyone was talking about Yellow Days. First-timers were telling their friends how excited they are to finally see him, people were already smoking their weed and sharing it amongst strangers to ensure nobody experiences Yellow Days sober. Finally, the lights dimmed. You could hear people cheering and gasping at the same time since it seemed like they had been waiting forever, but the moment was finally here. George and his band mates came on stage cool and collected but not eager to make us wait any longer before playing “The Way Things Change.” Between the sober, the stoned, and the intoxicated, everyone came together to cheer and experience the song live. Yellow Days wasn’t flashy, they played their songs just as they sound on the recording, but with more energy. You feel an energy that isn’t there when you’re alone listening to the music—you feel the music and it encompasses you. After the song was over, another cheer in unity follows. Yellow Days briefly announced the next song, “A Little While.” This is their most streamed song on Spotify, so it wasn’t a surprise when everyone in the room cheered in excitement to hear the song live.
Yellow Days sounds very close to how they do on their album, with some hints of George throwing in a few “woo”s and stretching his words as he sings in his majestic tone. They were there to play music for the crowd, and that’s exactly what they did. New songs like “What’s It All For?” were played for everyone to dance to and kept the audience in anticipation for what Yellow Days has hidden up their sleeve. The crowd never pushed forward to get closer to the band, even when they played popular songs like “Your Hand Holding Mine” or even “Gap in the Clouds.” Everyone was composed and honestly just excited to be there. The crowd was so focused on the performance as they felt the soul of the music and caught glimpses of the psychedelic projection behind the band. George took very little breaks only to address how glad he was to be here, and how genuinely happy he was to be able to perform his music without taking away from the fact that he was there with his bandmates. Introducing each of them by name, he made it clear that the show wasn’t just for him, it was for his friends playing with him and the people watching him and supporting him. And of course, he made no mistake of asking everyone if they enjoy weed as much as he does, and the cheers followed almost immediately. George looked to end the night with “How Can I Love You?,” a personal favorite of mine, and judging by the crowds response, a song that everyone was waiting for. The jazzy and eloquent playing was the perfect opportunity for everyone to burn their remaining energy (or weed) at the end of the set. We had just enough of Yellow Days to be satisfied, although everyone still wanted more. As expected, the crowd didn’t leave their spot—only to be rewarded with “A Bag of Dutch,” which is a very slow and lucid song allowing everyone to slowly slip away as the show was coming to an end.
It was amazing. Everyone was walking out of the venue with a smile on their face. Some expectations were exceeded and others were matched, but everyone agreed that Yellow Days put on an amazing experience. George and his band weren’t flashy nor abnormal because that isn’t who they are, that’s not their music. The band played soulful music with heart and played with precision. Yellow Days is that band, an amazing and endearing band in the indie music genre that makes you feel some kind of way. They’ll be back, and they’ll be ready to put on a show for us again.