An evening with Yonatan Gat

In the spotlight


Undoubtedly the best hump day I’ve had in a while. The trio of Yonatan Gat, Gal Lazer and Sergio Sayeg made their prodigious return to Waterloo on November 18 to rupture some eardrums in Starlight nightclub.

As their two openers were playing their sets, the trio was aimlessly meandering through the crowd, which didn’t go unnoticed, especially with their avant-garde inspired outfits of undersized blazers and what may have been Gucci loafers.

Soon after the performances finished, Gat, Lazer and Sayeg positioned themselves in the middle of the crowd, in contrast to most conventional artists and it made perfect sense. At that very moment I had a subconscious lapse and fantasized of every concert to which I’d ever been, with the Gat twist of the performers positioning themselves in the middle of the crowd to the great avail of heightened intimacy.

The crowd still managed to find a limb on their body to sway or tap along with the reverb-soaked sonic sounds.

As they finished setting up their gear, Lazer began what the crowd anticipated to be an incredibly long and fast-paced drum warm-up, but just as we expected cessation, Gat began his blissful strumming and the experience officially began.

Four minutes into the exposition of their album opener “East to West,” from their latest record Director, some crowd members were preparing to jive along to the chorus until the band took a sudden twist and left Lazer alone to perform an incomprehensibly paced drum solo. Illuminated by his red spotlight while his head craned towards the entrance of the venue, Gat and Sayeg turned off their respective spotlights and disappeared into obscurity as Lazer entranced the crowd.

After Lazer’s several spotlight performances, Gat began his improvisational prowess as his genre-defying strums shook the room and dazed the audience. Despite the rapidly changing time signatures, all members of the crowd still managed to find a limb on their body to sway or tap along with the reverb-soaked sonic sounds.

At the beginning of the show, the crowd was desperately trying to grasp onto a rhythm, but soon after many realized it would never come. Just as the band built up anticipation, they would abruptly cut away and explore a blend of unparalleled sounds taking cues from free jazz and African cadences with starkly punk influences.

Even after the last note was struck, most of the audience was confounded and didn’t want to leave the human bonfire …

As the Yonatan Gat experience came to a close, the trio performed a much slower rendition of their opening track mixed in with Hebrew hymns to further emphasize the jazz spaces they were employing.

The performance was winding down, but the audience was relentless and clapped for what felt like an eternity until the group discretely surrendered to the audience’s delight and quietly re-emerged from the corners of the room to serenade the crowd one last time. Even after the last note was struck, most of the audience was confounded and didn’t want to leave the human bonfire of pleasure and intensity.

Some casually drifted towards the corners of the venue while others relished the experience with closed eyes and their hands raised triumphantly above their heads.

Unlike many bands, each Yonatan Gat performance can undoubtedly be described infinitely many ways.

And as Heraclitus insists: “No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.”

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