stories + pics / Adeline Tan
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs blitzed the stage at Barclays Center, Brooklyn, NY and took no prisoners during a dynamic sixteen-song set on Thursday night! The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, an art punk/indie rock band from New York certainly knows how to give an ostentatious show. From the three disco balls hanging down from the stage ceiling to the shimmering 20 feet YYY sign backdrop on stage.
Their fourth album Mosquito was released on the 15th of April 2013 and it features production by TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek, Nick Launay and LCD Soundsystem’s James Murphy. At 34, Karen O (lead vocalist/pianist) is a more forceful androgynous punk-rock idol than ever before. Backed by guitarist/keyboardist, Nick Zinner whose resemblance unquestionably ages in the retreat of a Brooklyn apartment and the percussive overtures of gifted drummer Brian Chase. O has come through her twenties and flourished into a frontwoman whose sensibility offstage is only balanced by her childlike immaturity on stage.
Karen O, born in Busan, South Korea but raised in New Jersey has been a certified rock & roll idol since 2004 and has received many mentions as one of the sexiest rockers by men and women alike. She spews water on stage, screams into a microphone stuffed in her mouth and yelps rock & roll “war cries” on stage. If there was a chance to shock and demonstrate her badassery, Karen O will execute. From her astonishingly flashy outfits made by designer Christian Joy, to the serious amounts of confetti blasted multiple times into the audience. She is the characterization of a wild child, with vocals that both jolt and console you.
The show started with Sacrilege, from the latest album Mosquito. The curtains rose revealing a very much-bedazzled Karen O, dressed in a pontiff get-up but with a Vegas twist, leading the “Church of Rock”! Sequined headpiece with glow in the dark designs, a stole draped on her shoulders, it was far from restrained. Behind her stood a gospel choir (Broadway Inspirational Voices) backing her vocals, giving the song the soulful gospel feel it is prominent for.
Then they moved into Under the Earth and Black Tongue, which reminded the audience that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are at its core a punk rock band. Occasionally she would stomp a trigger on the stage and unleash a shower of confetti into the crowd. They delivered a one-two punch of the primal, reverberating new album title track Mosquito. Lead singer O was in a yellow shirt bearing legendary Freddie Mercury and was in a sparkly jacket and pant combo, an outfit that would be categorized as glam rock flawlessness! The costume was the definition of sensory overload and had theatrical flair.
After Down Boy, it was back to pure rock & roll as O donned her studded leather jacket for the anthem/dance tune Zero, which had the whole crowd chanting and bouncing along with her. If anybody questioned whether or not they are a true band and not just one-woman attraction, drummer Brian Chase and guitarist Nick Zinner continually reminded the audience with songs like Zero (with its cool beats) and Sacrilege (filled with vivid, edge-like guitar fills). After Zero the band moved into slower, more romantic sentimental tunes like Soft Shock and Skeletons.
Personally my favorite songs performed that night was Cheated Hearts, where O starting taking her jacket off along with the apropos lyrics and Gold Lion. There is power to YYYs gentler numbers that have heart.
O has got a killer voice: fiery, alluring yet subdued like a tiger. She knows how to moan and breathe between lines, to yelp, to repeat choruses as needed without numbing herself or others. She is known for her bizarre stage antics, dancing like a frenzied, mascara-strewn cheerleader and swinging her microphone all over her body and neck with elusively sexual or violent movements. She still does that semi-strangulation thing with the microphone cord, the illustrious Freddie Mercury statue pose and throwing out unanticipated laughs.
Another highpoint was the achingly stunning ballad Despair, during which O momentarily let down her rock goddess persona to move the crowd with the song’s unadorned splendor. This led into the rollicking disco rock song, Heads Will Roll and left the cheering, applauding crowd starved for more. Speaking of startling, she ended the set by fitting the microphone between her teeth for some hands-free yelling, then snaked it down under her shirt and, after undoing her belt buckle, jammed it into the front of her pants. O did some major peacocking as the extroverted siren she knows she is!
After the encore O came out on stage wearing a glittery black Brooklyn basketball tee and a shiny jacket with the words Staten Island printed repetitively on it. The last two songs released the goose bumps with Maps, the song that first taught us many years ago how grippingly deadly the Yeah Yeah Yeahs can be when they’re playing it soft and heartfelt. The stage lit a glow with tiny twinkling lights that resemble stars. The ever angular and beautiful Maps brought back some heartbreaking high school mix tape memories. They ended their show with a frantic, head banging Date With The Night that left the crowd hoping the concert wasn’t over. Sweaty and ready to rock out once more!
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