There’s a repeated line that permeates through NYC trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ latest LP Mosquito that finds the mercurial personality of Karen O cooing, “free yourself that leash is long, long, long.” That seems to be the general attitude of the band as they move gracefully into their second decade of existence as that line sets up their first foray into hip hop sampling with a Dr. Octagon guest verse. So with only a handful of sneak peeks as to what to expect as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs hit the road to play some of their highest billed summer slots in their history, the band took a breath on Sunday and opened their arms for an embrace from their genesis point.
The street outside Webster Hall in-between Manhattan’s Astor Place and Union Square was abuzz as dozens of unlucky fans tried, hopefully successfully, to get in as the marquee read “Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Sold Out”. Inside the venue, space was tight as openers X-Ray Eyeballs tried to take advantage of the high profile opening slot as most seemed content to sip their cocktails and talk in not-so-hushed-tones. For those willing to pay attention, the Brooklyn based four piece turned in a great set despite their disadvantage in having the sneakily expansive concert hall eat up some of their sound.
Personal space quickly came at a premium as X-Ray Eyeballs exited the stage as the non-drinking crowd jostled for position. The lights went down, and the moon that is Karen O came up dressed in her wild yellow leather suit complimenting her now bleach blonde hair. Her magnetic personality immediately whipped the crowd into a fervor as she began to whisper “Mosquito, Mosquito, Mosquito…” which signaled the title track off the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ forthcoming record.
“I understand a lot of you want to take pictures with your phones, but for this one song let’s just put them away and sing a long,” politely asked Ms. O as the opening drum kicks of “Gold Lion” helped to achieve her goal.
From there it was a steady flow of the new and old as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs freed themselves from whatever imaginary leash they may have been previously affixed to. Tracks “Slave” and “Wedding Song” saw their live premieres as the latter track was dedicated to Karen’s husband and, appropriately, two friends who are about to tie the knot.
The band closed their main set with “Heads Will Roll” which has replaced “Maps”, by virtue of various remixes, as their live staple with many in the audience mouthing words for the first time all night. After an extremely brief encore break, the band returned with cheery smiles all around. Guitarist Nick Zinner pulled out his trusty camera to document the moment, as Karen took a moment to make sure their monitor tech Christina received a proper “Happy Birthday”. Then it was time for the aforementioned “Maps” which bled perfectly into a raucous rendition of “Date With The Night” that left a palpable, simmering trail of smoke as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs moved onward to their next conquest.
The scene outside was much like the beginning as scores lined up outside and shook off some of the stardust, with nobody quite ready to go. The privileged few standing mouths agape staring up at that bright white marquee. A great, natural launching pad for a band that has no problem blasting off at any moment, especially when their hometown is concerned.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs @ Webster Hall Setlist 4/7/13
Under the Earth
Heads Will Roll
Date with the Night