-photos by Jessica Bardosh (Yeasayer concert photo gallery)
Ladies and Gentlemen: Yeasayer came to put on a show and that, they did.
Admittedly a new fan, I could sing along to just a handful of songs when I encountered feverish followers who were all but foaming at the mouth while waiting for the band to take the stage.
The stage design was simple, consisting of a series of white panels. Throughout the show, these panels happily flashed brilliant colours, creating an impressive sight complete with dramatic silhouettes. While many concerts can be overrun with distracting lights, in this case they only enhanced the experience. I enjoyed the show visually as much as I did audibly. It was obvious from the start that a lot of effort and thought goes into Yeasayer‘s performances.
At times the acoustics were a bit louder than the average ear would prefer but the sound quality was hardly diminished. Perhaps my only criticism was that supporting singer Anand Wilder did have a tendency to drone when taking the more prominent vocal role. This is most likely a result of his unique voice, which brilliantly complements Yeasayer lead singer Chris Keating. On his own, however, Wilder’s somewhat monotonous flow of sound had a tendency to drag on.
Yeasayer‘s songs typically consist of complex inflections that I expected would be something of a disappointment live. Proving me dead wrong, the vocals were exactly on point. Both singers maintained their musical integrity, never once giving me the chance to question their reliance on studio support. I was impressed most with how well Wilder and Keating worked together, feeding off each other’s energy. The entire band, in fact, was impressive – all five members contributed in multiple ways, frequently changing instruments yet remained remarkably cohesive.
Adding to the showmanship was Yeasayer‘s sincere gratitude to the crowd. Announcing their final pre-encore song, for which I waited all night (“Ambling Alp”), Chris Keating expressed his reluctance to leave. “I wanna stay all night, too!” he said. “Sounds good, looks good… You’re a very attractive crowd.”
The one thing I’ll take away from this show is the definitive knowledge that this band loves to make music. There is something inherently special about a group that clearly thrives on performing as much as the bouncing, euphoric audience enjoys spectating. Every person in the crowded Commodore Ballroom was moving to the tunes – even the sound guy blissfully sang along while a busboy danced his way through the crowd, a bin full of empties at his side. Even the classic emo kid was grooving in the corner, albeit by himself, while fans brought it back old-school style, waving lighters through the air.
Highlight of the night? Yeasayer never stopped dancing, and neither did its fans.