If you live in the Phoenix area and dig the Coachella lineup, you don’t want to be out of town in late April. With Coachella stirring during the fourth month annually in Southern California, many of the festival’s smaller stage acts swoon through the Grand Canyon state just prior to hitting Indio. Hot to trot experimental rockers Yeasayer pulled their” not quite a tour bus yet” RV into the Rhythm Room lot last Thursday, playing a “juke joint” size venue with an under 300 capacity. This was quite the down-size from the tens of thousands that they’d be playing to at Coachella,in between hanging with Jay-Z .
The recent buzz behind Yeasayer and their second album Odd Blood proves they have outgrown many of the small venues that were booked in advance for this tour. Instead of tossing them band in the category of synth based dance rock acts (Passion Pit/Hot Chip), these guys boast a more experimental rock and roll sensibility. This was despite the fact that their pre-show music was drowned in the late 80’s pop flavors of Bobby Brown’s “On Our Own” and Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses.”
The leading cause of the rock flavor is lead singer Chris Keating– who displays a spastic Dave Gahan meets Craig Finn stage charisma – whoe uses his hands to fully animate the lyrics, while playing either a drum machine or sampler. Guitarist Anand Wilder provides the soft emotive lead vocals to a number of songs, while bassist Ira Wolf Tuton, who looks quite different these days with a striking flat top (late 80’s again), provides the thunder and urgency, while two touring drummers fill the rest of the rhythmic space. With their blinking light show, danceable songs and bass/beat heavy assault , Yeasayer can fit as easily into the jam scene as
they have their own Brooklyn/indie scene. But unlike most bands out of Brooklyn, (MGMT, Chairlift, Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear)they display a seductive/exotic sound that can be more sexual than experimental, just ask the many girls shaking their hips slow and sensual. This was “Kids” without the catchy synth riffs, but instead a collage of manic drum and world fusion mixed with a spice of brainy pop.
Yeasayer’s set was short – just over an hour and combined songs from 2007’s debut release –All Hour Cymbals to most of Odd Blood. Both albums are diverse in sound and appeal, but newer compositions “Madder Red” and “O.N.E.” were quite nasty, most notably the later which got the small room shaking. Yeasayer has been sweating it out harder than former tour mates MGMT, and aren’t hailed as genius as Animal Collective but as evidenced by their no bullshit live shows and determination to reinvent pop and experimentalism, Yeasayer’s going to be around awhile.