Tag Archives: Karen O

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Two Big Local Bands Take the Stage at Barclays Center

September 19th, 2013

Earlier this year, art-punk trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs—frontwoman Karen O, drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner—released their fourth full-length, Mosquito (stream it below). The album includes production work from LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek among others, and in praising it, the A.V. Club says the album “takes a much more open-ended, and less studied, approach to Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ electric eccentricity.” Of course, Yeah Yeah Yeahs (above, performing “Sacrilege” on Late Show with David Letterman) are most known for the fiery live performances, and you can see these hometown musical heroes tonight at Barclays Center. But do yourself a favor and get there early enough to see Har Mar Superstar.

Another big local band, Vampire Weekend—college buddies Ezra Koenig (vocals and guitar), Chris Baio (bass and vocals), Rostam Batmanglij (keys and vocals) and Chris Tomson (drums)—also put out an acclaimed new album this year, Modern Vampires of the City (stream it below). The band’s much-praised third LP is a bit of a departure, abandoning the post-college themes of their previous work, but gaining plaudits in the process, with Rolling Stone winningly comparing the quartet’s new tunes to Paul Simon and Tom Petty. But, like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vampire Weekend (above, doing “Diane Young” on Saturday Night Live) are best experienced live. And alongside Solange and Sky Ferreira, they play Barclays Center tomorrow night.

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Yeah Yeah Yeahs Give Fans a Reason to Believe

April 8th, 2013

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

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Santigold Triumphantly Returns

January 18th, 2012

Santigold – Music Hall of Williamsburg – January 17, 2012

“It’s been a long, long time, and we’re so ready,” said Santigold to a sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg on Tuesday night. While it had indeed been a good chunk of time since the world last saw Santigold, the singer-songwriter-producer’s performance last night made for one powerful tale of her reemergence. Complete with three different sets of sparkly, glammed-out clothes, mesmerizing choreography and notable guest appearances, it was almost as if Santi’s spent the past few years off preparing for this elaborate reintroduction to the stage.

Opening with the energetic and forceful “Go,” Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O joined Santi, making for a charismatic power duo. Santigold then delivered old favorites “L.E.S. Artistes” and “Lights Out” before playing the powerful yet restrained new song “God from the Machine,” off the soon-to-be-released Master of My Make-Believe. With the help of elaborate costumes and liberal use of props, including golden pom-poms, sledgehammers, ropes and twirling umbrellas, Santi’s mesmerizing backing dancers’ moves would have upstaged anyone who lacked her overpowering stage presence.

Closing the first third of her set with “Get It Up,” Santi left the stage to her dancers before returning in a black-and-silver striped outfit to sing “Hold the Line” alongside a giant white horse. She then welcomed a big chunk of the crowd onstage to dance along with her to “The Creator.” But it wasn’t just onstage revelers getting loose—David Byrne, the legendary leader of the Talking Heads, who knows a thing or two about over-the-top, well-choreographed performances, danced along in the balcony. Opener Spank Rock later joined Santi to rap through a verse of “Shove It” before returning once more to finish the two-song encore with “B.O.O.T.A.Y.” —Dan Rickershauser

Photos courtesy of Andie Diemer | issuu.com/andiediemer/docs/portfolio