Dreamy and bright, Yumi Zouma performs at Lincoln Hall after pandemic hiatus – Chicago Maroon
Arts journalist Lydia Dimsu recounts her full experience of seeing Yumi Zouma perform live.
I came across the band Yumi Zouma a few years ago when I first heard one of their songs in the background of a vegan recipe video on YouTube. There was just something so warm and airy about the way singer Christie Simpson sang the “everything changed” lyrics in “In Camera” that made me stalk the song shamelessly; I haven’t stopped listening to the New Zealand band since. Dreamy guitar lines and smooth drumming are essential to this band’s indie-pop sound, and after years of streaming Spotify, I dove into Lincoln Hall on a rainy April night, ready to finally hear the band. live.
Yumi Zouma is made up of four members: vocalist Christie Simpson, guitarists Josh Burgess and Charlie Ryder, and drummer Olivia Campion. Over the past eight years, Yumi Zouma has released three extended plays and four albums, two of which were released during the pandemic and had never toured before. Although the tour focused on their new album Herethe band also made sure to give away their album Truth or Consequences, released in 2020, its own moments of glory. Knowing that I was in one of the first crowds to watch Yumi Zouma’s new music live made the concert experience all the more special.
Walking into the venue for an alt-pop concert, I was initially surprised by the older makeup of the crowd: mostly millennials wearing Patagonia-branded vests and oversized cream-colored cardigans. I was one of the youngest people in the crowd, although I don’t underestimate the power of corporate Midwestern millennials – when it came to singing, the crowd knew every song, word for word. The man I stood next to throughout the night sang every song the band played perfectly. But it was songs like “Where the Light Used to Lay” and “Mona Lisa”, singles by Here, which really got the crowd moving. Presumably, these were the two songs the crowd was most familiar with; I could hear the audience singing better than I could hear Simpson.
I firmly believe that there are two types of concerts: those where you can close your eyes and swing, and those where you just have to jump and dance. In a way, Yumi Zouma’s concert invited the audience to do both. The band’s set merged psychedelic, synth-heavy vocals with faster melodic indie-pop, showcasing the band’s musical range. The real treat for me was watching the band perform “In Camera” live. I had finally come full circle, experiencing the butterfly effect of a random cooking tutorial.
The beauty of Yumi Zouma’s performance was that each band member had their own moment to shine on stage. Personally, I couldn’t take my eyes off Campion’s battery; tucked into the back, she kept the beat going all night long and stole the show towards the end of one of their new singles “Give it Hell”, when she unleashed a powerful rock drum solo that drove in the song’s final chorus. While unexpected given the smooth vocals and upbeat melody, these little cross-genre moments set the band apart and show their growth as a multi-dimensional band since releasing their debut album in 2014.
Yumi Zouma was easily one of my favorite gigs of the year. The band delivered a spectacular performance with a soft voice that left me feeling nostalgic but ultimately grounded in the present, if you will. The bottom line is that Yumi Zouma’s discography is worth listening to, and like me in 2019, you might even find your perfect summer anthem in the process.