Now that I’ve gotten some sleep, I can stay awake at my computer long enough to tell you the details of the two Yeah Yeah Yeahs shows I’ve been to this week.
The first show, as you already know, was in New Jersey at the tiny little 200-person venue Maxwell’s. When the tickets for all 3 shows went on sale I knew straight away that this show was going to be 10x more fun than the Bowery shows.
Out of the handful of times I’ve been here, I’ve seen some of my favorite performers (Beck, Sondre Lerche, and Duncan Sheik) and always had such a great time because of the warm and welcoming crowd. What is it about crossing the river that makes audiences so much more accepting and receptive to music?
I have to say, I was pleased by the fact that it was a weeknight, and it was in Hoboken because that meant that the people there had to put some effort into getting to the show–well at least the many of us who came from Manhattan without cars.
As I mentioned the other day, J. and I got to the venue early so we could eat dinner at the club. When the hostess said we’d have to wait 10 minutes for a table, she escorted us to a small clubhouse area toward the back of the dining hall where people can sit and drink while waiting for their table. I never even knew it existed! Anyway, while I was in there I heard Blood on the Wall having a toast to having “a great show” and saw the YYYs and friends getting their chow on at their table.
Blood on the Wall was up to bat first. It seems as though 90-grunge style is back because all three band members were wearing ratty tshirts and jeans. Their set was ok, I wasn’t really feeling it, but J. liked them. I wasn’t really getting what sets their music apart from other bands that do the whole atmospheric rock thing. (I’m sure some angry people will write in and tell me.) I was not sold on the “french-door” of sound meets off-key singing, but the crowd up front kinda loved them, screaming out the band’s name at various points during the set. Different strokes for different folks, I suppose.
After BOTW vacated the performance area, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ stage crew started setting up their gear and also laid down some setlists and a chord change cheat-sheet for Nick. Everyone scrambled to see what was going to be played but I resisted, stating “I don’t want to know what’s going to happen!” I heard some people making comments that they weren’t going to be playing many old songs and I said, “well they are here to play stuff of the NEW album!” Seriously guys, if you want to hear the old stuff, go listen to your record at home.
It wasn’t before long that the rock ‘n’ roll trio pushed their way through the crowd and piled onto the stage amidst enthusiastic cheering and whooping. Karen opened the show by saying that 90 percent of what they were going to play was going to be new stuff. Hooray!
They started off with the slow-building but very beautiful “Turn Into,” which is kinda like the older, more up-tempo sister of “Maps.” Up next was the first single off Show Your Bones, the sexy and mysterious “Gold Lion” which features some pretty folky guitar strumming, but the addition of weird electronic noodling noises it sounds modern and larger than life.
More photos and commentary on the shows after the jump.
“Mysteries” featured a jittery guitar line which kinda made me thing that the song has a bit of a 1950s hop-sock vibe to it. There was some very jazzy drumming by Brian, and one of the cutest parts of the song was when Karen told Nick to “take it away!”
Karen then decided to please anyone who wanted to hear some old tunes by busting out one of the oldest YYYs songs, “Art Star.” During this song she proceeded to loose her sh-t by rolling around onstage and taking a black milk carton off of the floor and placing it over her head like a goalie mask.
“Phenomena” was the next song, to which I proceeded to lose my sh-t because it is my favorite song off the new album. From the moment I heard Brian’s strong and steady solo drum beat I was psyched. Then Nick came in with his sizzling guitar line and Karen followed in with her slow-growling voice. By the time they got up to the chorus “Something like a phenomena baby/ something like a phenomena/ Something like a phenomena baby/ gonna get your body off” (which benefits greatly from the matching melodies of the vocals and guitar for the first couple of measures of the staccato-syllabled chorus–it really gives it that extra edge). I loved the menacing sound of this song.
Karen immediately went into asking us to “tell [her] what rockers to swallow” during the raucous song “Rockers to Swallow.” They then slowed things down by playing the very pretty, but very sad “The Sweets” which is a song that asks, “Can we meet again/ meet and meet and meet again?/ Can you fill the can (??) if you can’t fill me?”
They stayed with the slow jams by doing a very special acoustic version of “Maps” to which Karen said the following, “This song is for Erica, Brian’s love. This song is for Leiah, Nick’s love…” and then she rushed over to the side of the stage and asked Imaad Wasif “what’s your [girlfriend’s/wife’s] name?” He told her but then she couldn’t hear so she asked him about 3 times before she came back to center stage and said, “This is for Christina, Imaad’s love. And this song is for all of you!”
Then oldie but goodie high-energy “Miles Away” was next. They then left the stage only to come back after lots of wooing, crowd clapping, and foot-stomping. They closed the set with 2 more old favorites, “Modern Romance” and then the “it’s time to go crazy” song, “Tick.”
As the lights came up, I turned around and saw everyone wiping off their foreheads and slicking themselves down from the enormous amount of sweat that had drenched their bodies.
Then there was last night…
I don’t even know what to say about last night other than it was really a downer. The crowd was not very into the show, despite being subjected to some stage antics like Karen eating green feathers during “Honey Bear” (she had to tell everyone to “Hold up, I gotta pick the feathers out of my teeth” several times after the song finished) and having us sing “Happy Birthday” to her mom sitting in the balcony. (Her birthday was in 3 days.)
Karen was even wearing the most ridiculous circus-performer attacked by lamÃ© and a Be-dazzler half leotard/skirt thing. Nothing. Nada. Didn’t do one iota for the folks there. Which probably makes it a really difficult task to get amped about performing. The band even nicked doing “Date with the Night” for the much slooooower “Modern Romance.”
Let me just leave you with this, right before Karen sang “Our Time” she went on a little rant about how she lives in LA now and asking the audience not to “judge” her for what she’s been working on all by herself with “no friends”. Want to know how the crowd reacted? A mix of booing and uninterested silence. Way to go guys.