A new multimedia art space on Vancouver Street run by a trio of twentysomethings, Yes.Oui.Si has the feel of one of the mixed-media collages that decorate its walls. Sculptures, prints, and videos fill most of the gallery; the front hosts a local-music listening station and zine collection, plus a bazaar selling records and tapes by local underground bands as well as handmade pottery, knits, and jewelry.
On February 11, after an hour of squeezing around the super-packed-but-high-spirited art-school crowd at Yes.Oui.Si's grand opening, I took shelter in a nook where zines hang from a bike wheel. I sat on a tree stump and flipped through a copy of Social Detox Issue # 1, waiting to hear two Allston bands — the Hogstompers and Mornin' Old Sport, both of which last month shared a bill at a dog wedding in their home 'hood.
Mornin' Old Sport set up on the floor, positioned in among a video installation, a copper birdcage, and an exposed brick pole. The trio — Zebulon Krol, Kate Smeal, and Scott Nanos — played minimal folk reminiscent of the Low Anthem; one number was a drinking song, even though all shows at Yes.Oui.Si are sober. (And for now, they're also acoustic and end by 10 pm.)
The Hogstompers followed with high-energy '40s-and-'50s-era traditional folk songs, mixing in rotating vocalists, spoon and violin players, keyboards, minimal drums, and several guitars. "Feel free to dance, but don't knock down any pedestals or abstract paintings!" warned the band, whose friends are likely more used to rowdy sing-alongs in Allston basements than gallery openings in the shadow of the Museum of Fine Arts.
The Yes.Oui.Si space — which interested Billy Ruane to the point where the late scene shaper assisted in securing a $5000 grant to help open it — exudes the same energy of a basement space, but without those old time-honored DIY roadblocks in fire hazards and police shutdowns. "We have our permits now and aren't going to jail!" celebrated one Hogstomper between songs. "Well, knock on wood."