I have no idea how to classify the band Yeasayer. Their last album All Hour Cymbals melds African and Middle Eastern rhythms with nifty dance riffs and techno blips and boops. You end up somewhere in the 80s, and you’re wearing two-toned sunglasses and suspenders over your tight green pants. Yeasayer’s latest, Oddblood, grows and rumbles and makes you want to dance. I’ve certainly danced to hits “ONE” and “Ambling Alp” alone in my room, equipped with scarves and hairbrushes.
I was psyched to see them live. The Ottobar was sold out, but the AC was cranking so that cold air could linger once the band came out. They were dressed like douches. I was almost entirely off put. It’s enough to know that I will be vibed, judged and gawked at by girls in cut-off jeans on my way to get a rail drink. But to have no choice but to vibe the band itself, I felt bad. The guitar player/keyboardist, Anand Wilder, was wearing a jumpsuit. A camo, hunting style jumpsuit. With a shitload of zippers all over the place. He actually grabbed a guitar pic out of one of them. The lead singer, Chris Keating, had a ‘tude; as they opened with weird number “The Children,” he grasped the mic and slurred his warped, demonic voice without looking into the audience. He was pissed at us. Therefore I was pissed at him.
They better play my goddamn favorite song. That was my only thought. Well, they eventually did, in the much-deserved encore. After about three songs, Keating lightened up and said he and Wilder are from Baltimore. Keating even showed us his blue crab tattoo. The flashy lightshow synched with the rhythmic beats and all was right in the world. The crowd jumped, melded, screamed along and had a good time.
Was it a good show? Sure. I wasn’t disappointed, shocked or mesmerized. They looked raw and edgy. So be raw and edgy. They knew what they had to do, and they did it. However, live shows need to connect the dots between the band and the audience; there needs to be that thing, that thing that causes critics and mean-mugging indie snobs to move around a little. I just want my rock and roll to rock and roll, unabashedly, and not look back.