I've still never seen a Yeah Yeah Yeahs concert. But I can say I've
been in the same room with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I think! They
definitely sounded like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, which is to say, pretty
People such as satellite engineers and ham radio
enthusiasts use a term called "line-of-sight," which, without all the
underlying math, describes an unimpeded path between two points in the
atmosphere described by the trajectory of a ray between those two
points. After the jump, the relationship of that term to last night's concert. Click here or on this informative diagram:
At the Yeah Yeah Yeahs performance last night at the Beaumont, I had
unimpeded line-of-sight with the shoulder blades of some tall
motherfucker standing in front of me. Moving to any other part of the
venue was useless, because the show was sold out, the house was packed
and the Beaumont is entirely the wrong shape for a concert: The floor
is flat and the stage is low. Nobody I was with could actually see
Fig. A is a diagram of Concert X, a Phil Collins performance in a conventional venue with series of tiered platforms.
Fig. B is last night's Yeah Yeah Yeahs performance at the Beaumont.
I couldn't believe that any Phil Collins show could be better than the
Yeah Yeah Yeahs, but there it is, mathematically. The Beaumont is a
great club with a big dance floor, but its geometry creates a pretty
terrible concert experience. I'm not kidding -- people were actually
holding up their phones and cameras over their heads, like periscopes,
watching the show on little screens because nobody who wasn't tall
could see a damn thing.
A giant plastic orb was suspended over
the stage, which, as the band appeared around 9:45, revolved pole-to-pole to reveal
a gigantic iris. Cool! An eyeball! It was pretty much all I would see
for the next 90 minutes. Karen O opened the show with "Heads Will
Roll," wearing what appeared to be a luchador's mask with fluorescent
accents, which I could see every now and then when her head popped up
above audience-level. I assume she had some kind of awesome outfit to
go with it.
Apparently, there was a lot of really impressive
theatrical stuff happening onstage throughout the show, which I mostly
couldn't see. There were Ridley Scott-style shafts of blue light and a
wind machine blowing around plumes of confetti which occasionally
exploded from the stage wings and the floor. Atmospheric! There was a
strobe light at one point, but since the big eyeball wasn't moving
around very much and I couldn't see the band, the effect was undramatic. "I've never felt shorter
in my life," said a petite woman named Michelle who stood nearby for
most of the performance.
So, basically, the only thing left to
discuss is the music, which was great. The spare arrangements of YYYs'
songs are tailor-made for live performance, and the characteristic
drama of their compositions (and the power of Karen O's amazing voice)
make for a compelling live experience. The crowd made a lot of
noise, particularly during the band's popular songs and what my ladyfriend suggested might be Karen O costume changes. She was only
guessing about that whole thing as we're about the same height. The
band sounds fantastic live, and someday I hope to
see one of their performances.
But look! Our photographer had a fucking great view. Click on the photo below for a slide show of all the up-close action you almost certainly missed out on last night, unless you're Manute Bol.
Here is a photograph of their set list. Note the "atmospheric transition" between songs two and three. After the first set ended about eight minutes shy of an hour, they came back after a 15-minute break and encored with "Maps" and "Date with the Night."
This was the first time I'd ever heard of the opener, Grand Ole Party, who were great. Lead vocalist Kristin Gundred is also the band's drummer -- I'd have liked them anyway, but any band whose lead singer also plays the drums is awarded 5 bonus points and a +1 mushroom (except Genesis).