If anything I can now proudly say that I have seen the Yeah Yeah Yeahs live. I did not know what to expect from them, as their new album exhibits a change in the direction of their music making. I would say any nay Sayers or concerned fans afraid of this sound have nothing to fear as their live performance is nothing but a reminder of the mature artists they have grown into. Hairs stood up on my arms as Karen O’s voice screeched CHHIIICAGOOO!!! Assuming a pose donned in a white and patterned Kimono…what has become her signature garb as of late…Beginning the night’s show with “Runaway” off of Its Blitz, she stood and dance in a very Hiawatha/geisha style. As if she were a sultry Pocahontas banished from the tribe and took new residence in LA. Between songs spraying water into the air like a dragon, Brian beating the drums in a tribal manner and Nick pushing the guitar to a harder and louder level as they broke into Black Tongue, Karen disrobed from her Kimono to show off her matching leotard and tiger print tights. Very rarely can a grown woman make the fashion sense of a 4 year old work, I have no complaints though…heh what’s that say about my psyche? Everybody’s attention was not lost, as all eyes never left the stage.
The set list was a varied mix of all 3 LPs and even their debut EP. We also were privileged to see the much Youtubed cover the Misfit’s “Human Fly.” I think if it is at all possible the YYYs have a more significant punch live then the albums blasting out of my speakers in the studio. This group has grown up so much with their music evolving from the loud art stars we were all introduced to in 2001. Golden spotlights from the stage shot up at the Aragon’s roof as the band transitioned in “Gold Lion.” I stand back in awe; Karen O is a living, breathing orgasm. The YYYs are definite performers, songs are just the vehicles for them to channel their inner spirits through these stage personas they embody in performance. The eyeball rolled back at the onset of “Skeletons”, as though we the audience just entered a state of R.E.M. When the first single, for this new album began, Karen disappeared off stage returning in the now much talked about leather/spiked KO jacket. They powered through most of the show with little to speak about. When Karen did she made sure it was sincere as she spoke of their love of Chicago, twittering around like a flirty girl. She gives us a big Thank You for our turnout, which resulted in the switching of venues from the Riv to the larger Aragon. Nick began strumming his acoustic guitar as she dedicated what she says is their one love song, “Maps” to all the lovers in the house. Last song of the official set is “Y Control”, with the crowd jumping, guitars screeching and synthesizers popping, Nick breaks from playing to photograph what seems like the front row of the crowd. Ending with Karen genuflecting towards stage and gracefully thanking the audience. It’s very obvious that we will see them return to stage, curiosity is peeking to what they’ll choose to complete this terrific outing in my opinion.
At this point, I’d be interested in hearing maybe something from Show Your Bones or Is Is. Foot stomping begins. The crowd’s breath is held as we see both Brian and Nick return, everyone wondering what trick is left in Karen’s bag. She doesn’t disappoint as she comes back on with a fluorescent pink lucha libre’s mask, as she demands the crowd to dance til we’re dead. Seemed like a very suitable choice of songs to get everyone’s blood pumping. She unmasks herself and cloaks her head with a white silk scarf taking the audience down memory lane showing the strength of her vocal chords in the chorus of Art Star from their first EP. At times she was literally swallowing the microphone, alternating from that into a prance similar to that of a teenage pixie while she sang the verses. They finish this blood pumping, adrenaline rushing evening with “Date with a Night “ as Karen straddled the microphone chord like it was old boyfriend that she still holds a flame for. I have to admit; I’m left with a stronger admiration for the band and a stronger crush on their leading lady. There are some art exhibits you get to view that leave you with this sort of sensation that anything is possible if you keep working at it.