Oh, the joys of autumn. There's football on for half of the week, baseball starts it's postseason and of course the weather changes. This time of year is especially joyful down here in Texas; it's the reason we put up with the months of horrendous heat. Fronts blow in, breezes kick up, and the smell of BBQ carries over the streets in a way that just tickles. Saturday night was no different, and with a full moon lighting the sky, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs were to make the most of this gorgeous night.
I headed down to rendezvous with my friend outside of Stubb's, where I was instructed to wait outside amidst the crowd of hopefuls looking to snag a last minute ticket or sneak themselves in. I tried to make friends, shrugging my shoulders at the apparent lack of a ticket, shooting it with the unfortunate group; we were all shit out of luck. When my friend finally materialized out of nowhere with two VIP passes, none of the apologetic looks in the world could have eased the pain (or awkwardness) of my traitorous ways.
"You son of a bitch," their eyes glared.
We headed inside before the dirty looks turned violent and made our way up to the balcony.
Looking out over the crowd at Stubb's was amazing. The outside stage was at maximum capacity and the crowd had hit that cohesive point of moving as one, a single movement felt by all. The balcony wasn't much better, and a seat next to the railing to view through the scaffolding ended up being the best seat I could muster, but all in all, it was still better than the pit.
The gang showed up just as I sat down, and we were thrown right into the hopeful opening chords of "Turn Into." This was my first Yeah Yeah Yeahs show, so there was a certain amount of expectation. I make no claims at being a massive fan, being first drawn in by the commercial success of "Maps" off Fever To Tell, but YYY hold a special place in my heart. To me they are like autumn, the feeling of a new breeze blowing in, and the eeriness of Halloween being around the corner, full moons and the color orange. All of these emotions were realized as Karen O's vocals turned from sweet to sinister.
Critics have instructed me that the latest from YYY, Show Your Bones, is far more reserved, that the jolting distortion has taken a back seat to a far more polished sound. They've told me that more attention has been paid to O's vocals and that they haven't achieved as well as with 2003's Fever..., but I think that's what makes them so intriguing. Sure the new material feels a little polished, and the vocals sound almost prettier, but to be able to switch back and forth in a live setting so easily is astounding. O exploded onto the stage from the start, and when guitarist Nick Zinner kicked in "Rich," the crowd followed suit and there wasn't a static kid in attendance.
Throughout the show there was an odd chemistry set forth on stage between the four (Imaad Wasif has been brought on to add some backing noise). It wasn't a bad chemistry, just strange. Drummer Brian Chase sat comfortably in the back providing nothing but steady beats to fill the surge of Zinner's dark melodies. The oddness came through Karen O's movement. I had always heard of live sets where O would just go nuts. Here she remained virtually stationary during most of the tracks, slowly pushing an invisible vibe out onto the masses. With a grin on her face and a brightly colored leotard that I can only describe as what an exploding firecracker might look like if put into clothing form, O entertained the willing crowd by involving them in the songs. Letting them sing along, professing her love for Austin, chewing on the microphone and even trying to set up Chase on a few blind dates.
Playing a fair selection of tracks off of Fever To Tell, but focusing more on the latest, YYY came back for an encore and went screaming like crazies into the night, leaving the crowd completely satisfied.
As the show ended, we headed inside and subsequently down the street to the hipster-friendly Beauty Bar, where we were treated to a DJ set by Zinner. It was a little on the strange side to be bathed in green light under a disco ball and run into the guitarist. Seeing him with the knowledge that I would be writing this review prompted the questions to flow:
"How does all that noise come from such a small guy?"
"Does he really like Justin Timberlake's 'SexyBack'?"
"How can he be DJ'ing if he is outside half the time texting someone?"
None of these were answered however, and we chose to leave the bar, deciding we'd had enough Yeah Yeah Yeahs for one night. So with the memory of a firecracker leotard and melodic distortion floating around my head from the show, we made our way back down the street, content with the night's musical escapades. That is until we heard the drone of The Black Angels filling the streets, but that's a whole different review altogether.
By Kyle Rother