The Yeah,Yeah, Yeahs
By Eric Brown, Courier Staff Writer
Oakland’s Fox Theater, the venue newest to the Bay Area concert circuit, played host last Thursday night to the popular New York Indie rock band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The second and final show of the band’s stay in Oakland was visually impressive and musically masterful.
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs lined up two opening bands for their gig. The first was the Beijing based band Queen Sea Big Shark, which features a creative hybrid of electronic and surf rock music. Initally the audience was confused by the band’s appearance and style, as they were not featured on the bill, but many people quickly began to enjoy Queen Sea Big Shark’s musical aptitude and uniqueness.
The second band, electronic act YACHT, escalated the show to another level. YACHT, which only features two members, both vocalists who have prerecorded musical tracks, was an explosively charismatic male-female duo whose set surprised many audience members (this critic included). Despite their unabashed religious devotion, YACHT provided an intense and eccentric set with many original performance quirks (e.g. using an iPhone to present a mid-set PowerPoint presentation). Both opening bands were more than proficient and exhibited signature traits of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, such as visual stimulants and a dominant female vocalist.
When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs took the stage it quickly became clear that no opening band could prepare a crowd for their indie rock onslaught. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are well known for their talented singer Karen O. Dressed in an abstract rope-based outfit (one that is impossible to describe) Karen O blazed through the mysterious track and one of the standouts of the show “Dull Life” off the band’s April release It’s Blitz! The set continued at a breakneck pace with the popular “Gold Lion” and an exceptional rendition of “Black Tongue”, in which Karen O leaned in to the audience, offering her microphone to fans to sing along.
Through the duration of the first few songs one could tell a true dance scene was on the verge of breaking out, and it did when the band’s stellar tour guest musician played the keyboard riff of their latest single “Heads Will Roll”. The general admission lower level of the Fox turned into a civil but energetic pool of movement.
In general, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs avoided their second and most rock oriented LP, Show Your Bones, only playing three songs (“Gold Lion”, “Cheated Hearts”, “Turn Into”) off the 2006 release. Perhaps this is because Show Your Bones features some of the band’s most acoustic and traditional efforts as far as instrumentation go. “Cheated Hearts”, among the best Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ studio tracks sounded tired and lacked passion in performance. On the other hand, the raucous garage rock of their 2003 debut Fever to Tell and the electronic dance tunes of the aforementioned It’s Blitz! worked on Thursday night just fine.
Toward the end of the set Karen O, now in a birdlike kimono, worked through three of the most tender (and best) songs off the band’s new album. In succession, the band fired through “Skeletons”, “Hysteric”, and “Soft Shock”, which flowed seamlessly in concert. The venue seemed to hang in the balance of Karen O’s suspended vocal lines and slow motion gestures. The set ended with Karen O “getting her leather on” and providing satisfying renditions of “Zero” and “Turn Into”.
Although “Y Control” opened the band’s encore, the highlights of the encore, and perhaps the show, were the two songs that culminated the night, “Maps” and “Date With the Night”. Over the course of the night Karen O had barely spoken to the audience, but when guitarist Nick Zinner pulled out an acoustic guitar and began slowly playing through the chords of megahit “Maps” (of Rock Band fame), she launched into a dedication to all the lovers in attendance. “Maps” became a marvelous moment from the show and was a vocal performance for the history books. The excellent show ended with the blistering “Date With the Night”, whose feedback drenched notes resonated throughout the Fox Theater as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs left the stage.