Somehow I’ve managed to go this long without ever seeing the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. On stage, that is. For years I’d see Nick Zinner on the L train and think, "Hey it’s that little skinny dude with the hair. I wonder if he’s in a band." He was, obviously. I always liked what I’d heard, but guess I was too busy being into Super Furry Animals or The Moonbabies or whoever to go see them.
But I went to see them Friday night at Bowery Ballroom. The Yeah Yeah Yeah’s show the previous night at Maxwells had been, from the reports I’d read, pretty bananas and was prepared for the slightly more subdued BB version. Maybe it was just because it was cold and EVERYONE was checking their coats, the place seemed as packed as I ever saw it. The fashion was disappointing, as you’d think a show of this nature, this band, would inspire kids to dress to the nines, like March’s DFA 1979 show, or the !!! record release party on the boat. But apart from some likely candidates for Awesome Hipster Prom (coming to Webster Hall in Spring 2008) it was normal attire for most.
The band was showing off their new songs from the forthcoming Show Your Bones, as well as new guitarist Imaad Wasif. Karen O was showing off a weird, sparkly disco frock/leggings outfit, that unflattering bowl cut and the Siouxsie Sioux/Marylin Manson eye makeup. She doesn’t seem any less spastic three years down the line, and spent the entire show either bouncing around or writhing all over the stage floor.
One of the neatest aspects of the show, visually, was a floor light on the left side of the stage that cast giant shadows on the opposite wall. Karen O cuts a memorable silhouette, towering of the shadow of Nick Zinner. I wish just one of the ten bazillion pictures on Flickr had captured this.
Oh yeah, the music. While not a superfan, I must admit the Yeah Yeah Yeahs really bring the goods live. Zinner, in particular, is a really inventive guitarist and it’s his snaky lines and riffs that really make the band for me. (Let’s not forget the competent drumming of Brian Chase!) New single "Gold Lions" still sounds like Love & Rockets’ "No New Tale to Tell" to these ears, but the pick hit has to be "Phenomena" that was mesmerizing despite only being one note. But it’s a good note, played with funk and aplomb. I’m anxious to hear the whole album. The stuff from the first album was fine, the crowd sang along to "Maps" under their breath, because even though it’s everyone’s favorite song, it’s still not cool to like the hit best.
Karen O getting all of Bowery Ballroom to sing "Happy Birthday" to her mom was a really nice moment. Underneath that freaky exterior, she’s a good daughter after all!
Photo swiped from jayalmenana’s Flickr photosream.
I think Gold Lions sounds like a Tegan and Sara song. Girly and melodic, but seemingly the only one of the new bunch of songs that has this effect (Matt and I went on Saturday night).
I heard the new one in its entirety for the first time this morning (it leaked last night) and I concur with Anne here. "Gold Lion" is definitely the poppiest/most accessible (girly and melodic is a good description actually) song on there, though I think the album moves in a more melodic, '80s college rock direction as compared to their earlier stuff. It's really quite good, as was the show that we saw on Saturday. Oh and like you I'd also somehow managed to not see them, at least in a small club (I saw them at Siren in 2002 and opening for Devo at Summerstage previously). And furthermore, points to you for pointing out drummer Brian Chase. That dude is the unsung hero of the band!
Oh, my goodness, I am embarassingly jealous of the fact that you were always on the subway with Nick. I agree that his guitar playing makes the band as unique as it is, even though I also love Karen and Brian…I tried learning some YYY's songs on guitar, and those arrangements are beastly for someone who hasn't quite figured out tremolo yet…
Zinner really should have been included in Rolling Stone's 100 best guitarists; all they cared about was boring-ass Joh Mayer.