SECRET SHOW: YEAH YEAH YEAHS @ SANTOS

by neil roberts

One of the most talked about albums of the year was on live display Sunday night as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs played their first full performance in support of It’s Blitz! at Santos Party House. Slightly less irreverent and with a quiet focus, Karen O continued her weekend onslaught on the album’s nonbelievers. She gave the crowd what they wanted screaming through classics from Fever to Tell and Show Your Bones but the manner in which new tracks such as “Dull Life” and “Hysteric” were integrated seamlessly throughout the set, proved their value as positive additions to the YYY sound catalog.

Artist: Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Song: Hysteric

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It’s not a secret show if everyone knows about it… We weren’t supposed to be able to get in, every blog made it sound as if attaining tickets would be nearly impossible, but I had a really great feeling about it. After wastedly wandering home from my truly ridiculous birthday celebration Saturday night, we turned on Karen and the gang’s tivoed SNL performance before crashing . It got to me. Big time. Tears were shed. I had a little quarter life awakening thanks to Karen’s smile. She was honest, pure, and sold the shit out of every word she sang. And yes, “Maps” still gets me every time. As an aspiring musician, I look to the best for the hope and courage to continue. I fell asleep with a little bit of Karen’s twinkle in my eye. So when my buddy called me at 4:30 yesterday, saying he was fourth in line, and that we should probably get down to Santos, I ditched all prior plans, and couldn’t believe that we might actually get in. We waited for 3 hours in the cold, (though we met a few people at the show who only waited 45 minutes) walked right in and picked up our $20 tickets. It was that easy. I guess enough people didn’t think they’d make it in, so not that many people actually tried.

At first, I didn’t like It’s Blitz!. I think the songs were almost too sad for me, the heart break in this album is thick, and I wasn’t ready to face it. Hopeless romantics have a hard time listening to such potent gut wrenching poetry. But when I saw Karen’s smile light up the entire room tonight I had a change of heart. Sometimes you just have to see the band play for the first time, before you can truly understand where they are coming from. We were standing in the very front, and I suddenly started to think of all the good things I’d heard about Karen O’s live performances over the years. I was like a school boy, giddy, but waiting patiently. Then the first It’s Blitz! show got underway and they blew me away. How does a three piece band have a sound that big?

I tried to take as many pictures as possible trying to capture any of Karen O’s perfectly picturesque poses. Brian Chase commanded his drums with a composed fluidity. He’s refreshingly musical with his phrasing, rocks hard when he needs to, and always knows where the beat should land. He was focused yet perfectly content, smiling most of the show. Nick Zinner’s guitars shredded, weaped, screamed, danced, and whispered. Creating his truly unique sounds through his barrage of effects pedals.

As amazing as the band is, I couldn’t take my eye off of Karen for most of the night. She put on one of the most heartfelt performances I’ve seen in a very long time. It was a breath of fresh air after a streak of really boring shows. Something beautiful and revealing is on the other side of her honest eyes. She has a vulnerability which has a tragic sense of humor. She unleashes it, as she pours her heart out into every lyric. It almost seemed as though she would get caught up in the moment and right before she broke into tears, she would transform all of her feeling into the most perfectly appealing smile you’ve ever seen. Usually followed by her yelp-scream and a kick. That girl has some fucking power behind her voice and knows how to work it. If all musicians would put what she puts into her performance, there would be no bad-boring shows. I left inspired by an artist fearlessly laying it all out there. Now I just have to get out there, and find my front woman.

Here’s the set list. They took requests for the last three songs of their encore and ended up playing “Turn Into” and “Date With a Night” before a definitively appropriate close with “Porcelain,” the hidden track at the end of Fever to Tell.

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