live review: yeah yeah yeahs [with blood on the wall], the paramount theatre, 4/25/2006.
nick zinner is a fucking guitar hero.
this is the only picture i have of anything that has to do with the show, due entirely to the fact that the ticketmaster guy sold me balcony seats, and i didn't know it until i was denied access onto the main floor. i attemped to take pictures, but i was too far away to get a decent shot of anything. i've only ever had to sit down for one other show i've ever been to [a commercial-radio-sponsored christmas concert in 2004], but it wasn't that much of a drag. i had a thoroughly enjoyable time. and if there's one band that can entertain the poor suckers sitting down, it's yeah yeah yeahs.
i went to the show thinking imaad wasif, the touring guitarst, was going to open for the band. much to my chagrin, he didn't, and i was stuck listening to blood on the wall. i don't like slagging off bands on this blog, but i was not entertained. they sounded sort of like surfer rosa-era pixies, minus "where is my mind?" and strong songwriting. it was good for what it was, but noise-rock is not something i'm really into.
briefly after blood on the wall cleared out their gear, yeah yeah yeahs casually walked across a dark stage, with christmas lights wrapped around the drum kit and some of the amps. they jumped straight into "fancy," and proceeded to rock the crowd with the slow-burning, almost grungy, tune. this begun what turned out to be, despite me having a balcony seat and not finding the friend i was supposed to meet there, a wonderful night with handful of great performers.
they got "gold lion" out of the way pretty quickly. i do have to admit that watching the song being performed live kicked me off the fence between liking and disliking the song. karen is a natural-born performer, and although the beer-spitting and reckless behavior was kept to a minimun, i truly believe that karen is the last great female rock star. and although karen is the face of the band, nick is the heart of the band, and brian is the pulse. the fact that this show was entertaining comes from the fact that they were a unit.
as the show went on, the trio [or quartet, if you include imaad] performed numbers old and new, dusting off old favorites from their debut ep, "art star" and "miles away," the former entailed karen jumping around and smiling like a happy four-year-old during her "do do do" parts. during the band's older numbers, such as "pin", imaad just sat down between his keyboards and rocked back and forth, simulating a mental patient. even he did his part to entertain the crowd. new songs that the crowd got a kick out of the most were two of the songs from show your bones that sounded like they could have been on fever to tell, "honeybear" and the rockabilly-ish "mysteries." during the raucous version of "honeybear," nick feverishly pounded at his guitar, and stumbled his waifish body all over the stage, as karen jumped around and brian beat the shit out of his drums. during "mysteries," my favorite song off of the sophmore album, karen screamed "TAKE IT AWAY NICK," just like she did on the song, and mr. zinner unleashed a note-perfect solo that affirmed his status as my favorite guitarist playing music right now. then, during the end, where she screeches out the refrain, "STRESSSSS!", karen proceeded to writhe around on the ground, recalling the karen o of old. after a climactic rendition of "warrior," our heroes left the stage.
after a seemingly endless break before the encore, the three main characters of the night ventured back onto the stage. brian took a break behind the kit as karen dedicated the next song to all of us, and introduced it as a song that they've only played acoustic one time before on tour. as the opening notes of "maps" filled the near-silent theater, everyone cheered at the tops of their lungs and started to sing along. as we all quietly sang the verses, i literally got goosebumps. during the chorus, some overzealous concertgoer screamed along the chorus, thus making karen chuckle. as the rest of us sang the chorus, "wait, they don't love you like i love you," i gave myself one last moment to lament my recent breakup. after karen helped me exorcise the feelings that were making me feel sorry for myself, i'm not allowed to feel bad about it anymore.
after the highlight of the night, imaad took the stage with the band as they performed the anthemic conclusion of show your bones, "turn into." at the end, karen put her arm around imaad as she sung the last bars of the song, and he left the stage. the last song of the night, "black tongue," was the perfect way to end such an emotional rollercoaster: with the words, "boy, you're just a stupid bitch/and girl, you're just a no-good dick."
summary: for those of you thinking that yeah yeah yeahs were going to sacrifice the energy of their earlier work for the near-balladry of their newest effort, you have been proven wrong. the songs on their sophomore album provided a needed balance to their live show. the lulling moments were just as thrilling as the art-punk. yeah yeah yeahs are growing up in front of our very eyes, and it's a wonderful sight.