Monday, September 28, 2009

Yeah Yeah Yeahs – 9/23/09 – Radio City Music Hall, New York City

Karen O is a performance artist, but she also is a bit of a throwback. She’s a rock star in an era where rock stars are dead, but she has also maintained some of the teenage innocence that reminds the audience that this “act” is just that. She is having fun dressing up in outrageous gear, she’s chuckling as the songs end and the crowd starts cheering and she’s basically reminding you not to take everything so seriously. She may look like a cross between Joan Jett and Pat Benatar, but the show she puts on is distinct to her. I have much respek for this band because they have created something new and unique while looking back to past influences, without losing their own current identity.

I have been planning to see this band for years now, but it has never worked out. So I while I was excited to be seeing them at all, seeing them at Radio City was really perfect, in many ways -- big enough to contain the huge, stadium sized sounds of “Zero” (and the giant eyeball beach balls and confetti that accompanied it), but small enough to make the performance seem intimate.

It’s to be expected that “Our Time” and some of their early stuff were left off the set list, but aside from that, every song you wanted to hear was played and played really well. “Gold Lion”, with the Love and Rockets riff and the Siouxie and the Banshees chorus was probably the tightest sounding tune of the night, aided, of course, by an enormous ground-to-ceiling “YYY” back drop. But there were a bunch of other highlights as well. The slow songs were all commanded perfectly by Karen O and the encore of “Maps” and “Hysteric”, with strings accompanying both, was fantastic. “Zero” had a huge sound, as if it was being played for 30,000 people in Liberty State Park. The aforementioned confetti came right at the end of the song, which was odd, but it created a party vibe for the last five songs of the night, which was cool. Basically, everything was as you’d have expected it musically -- the dance songs, like “Heads Will Roll” and “Phenomena”, were really dancey; the punky tunes, like “Dull Life” and “Pin” were really punky and the standard rock songs like “Y Control” and “Cheated Hearts” were excellent. Few of the songs were taken to amazing heights, but none of them disappointed. And as far as performances go, Karen O is the attraction and she brings the whole show to a new level. “Cheated Hearts” was especially great, as she pranced from side to side and ended up on the floor of Radio City, singing with the audience.

Radio City always brings a great vibe and great sound, but it also provides a band the opportunity to absolutely blow the roof off (see Jacket, My Morning, June 2008). The Yeah Yeah Yeahs did everything but that, which is much more of a back-handed compliment than it should be. This is a unique band with varying sounds and an incredible lead singer. That people fawn over Gwen Stefani and Pink is laughable after seeing Karen O. It’s weird to say that you can take her performance for granted, but since it took me so many years to go see them, her reputation preceded her and I it took me a few days to fully appreciate how well she commands the scene and get everyone’s ass shaking. Looking back, this is a band that could sound great in Madison Square Garden or a small club and that’s no small thing. No matter where they are playing, there is no way you will walk away and not enjoy what you saw.

BV pics and review here.


Shake It
Heads Will Roll
Dull Life
Gold Lion
Miles Away
Soft Shock
Cheated Hearts
Turn Into
Maps (Acoustic w/ strings)
Hysteric (Acoustic w/ strings)
Y Control
Date With The Night

No comments: