Yeah Yeah Yeahs – Webster Hall – April 7, 2013
Belief in the idea that one’s art shouldn’t just tap you on the shoulder but elbow you in the ribs is what’s propelled the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ music for more than a decade. It’s puzzling at first to consider that this fantastic trio has been around that long, especially since their discography is so concise. The upcoming Mosquito, will be the band’s fourth album, but it warrants respect and admiration that each offering has seemed so well timed, as if there were this uncanny sense of when their music was needed most. The music has always been delivered with heedless conviction. When a Yeah Yeah Yeahs record has come out with live shows to follow, the bellowing message resonates for a while afterward.
New York City’s patience in waiting for their hometown favorites’ latest declaration was rewarded last night at Webster Hall. It’s fitting that Karen O’s famous stage attire could have been read as a sexy interpretation of a prize fighter’s outfit, with an oversize glittering robe, satin shorts and even a couple of knee pads. Like a trained fighter, Yeah Yeah Yeahs measure their moments to strike and let go with abandon when they find their opening. The set was a barrage, fluidly covering their entire discography with each song leaving its mark. Classics like “Gold Lion” and “Black Tongue” were belted out with a fresh new purpose while attention-grabbers like “Zero,” “Heads Will Roll” and their newest, “Sacrilege,” exhilarated to the point of spreading pulsing waves across the floor from the crowd’s collective hopping.
In their trademark approach, the band hurled themselves into the performance. Karen O demonstrated why she has become a rock icon, delivering shivering vocal punctuation amidst all the physical exhibition she is known for. Her flair and gusto were matched by Brian Chase’s controlled fury on the drums and Nick Zinner’s precise and penetrating structure on guitar. Chase in particular, smiling gleefully, arms swinging and pounding away, captured a palpable mood of celebration shared between the band and their passionate local following. There was no doubting the mutual love in the room, and you got the sense that no one there would’ve wanted to be anywhere else in the world. “Love is in the air tonight!” proclaimed O, and that energy remained through the show’s end when the beloved “Maps” was finally played in the encore, the entire crowd singing along.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs have always shown that they appreciate and embrace their regard as one of the all time great NYC bands. This recognition comes across in the enthusiasm with which they make and play their music and the ambition they maintain to keeping it substantial. The attitude has always been to put it out there, strut it hard and let the chips fall where they may, and this has continued to result in a glowing response, as it did again last night. Yeah Yeah Yeahs simply believe in their music, which makes everyone who’s listening believe in it, too. —Charles Steinberg
Photos courtesy of Gregg Greenwood | gregggreenwood.com