Yeasayer Live: Gig of the Year? Errr…


Honestly haven’t a sodding clue how to properly file Yeasayer, but hell, if that’s not a great place for a band to (not) be, don’t know what is. Last album All Hour Cymbals melds African and Middle Eastern rhythms with d) all of the above, meets you somewhere in the 80s, makes you wear skinny hipster trousers and is bonkers.  Their latest, Oddblood, grows and and reverberates and makes you want to dance and sing along (if you could only figure out what Chris Keating or Anand Wilder are on about).

The Brooklyn lads are, quite simply, really awesome. Edgy. Raw.

So imagine, then, the expectation level of seeing them live. Mount Enormous.

Three singers? Anand! Chris! Ira! Check! Chris Keating’s bobbing and weaving? Check him out! Lighted podiums and a bunch of electro toys? Robot check…complete. Amazing percussion (supplied on tour by Jason Trammell and Sinkane)? Ch-ch-ch-ch-check it out!

Best songs of the night were by far the most obvious contenders: “2080” “O.N.E”, “Ambling Alp” and one of the encores, “Sunrise”, had the crowd swell and stomp.  Opener “The Children” sounded vocodery eerie, “Rome” was frenetic, “Wait for Summer” needed a picnic to go with it, “Love Me Girl” was a great dance grind, and “Mondegreen” became manic psych-rock, replete with guitar shredding by Wilder.

Was it a good gig? Yup, check. Great gig? Doublecheck. As awesome as many of us thought it would be?

Uh, is this mic on?

Maybe it was a case of tour-rot (the kind of tiredness that comes with having to play a mere few days after Coachella). Maybe it was a case of a bunch of really excellent musicians up on stage who are so well-rehearsed that things end up sounding, err, less edgy and raw. Maybe it was just Yeasayer being Yeasayer. Certainly, Keating did endear himself to the Vancouver crowd by plainly stating how much he loved the city and BC. “We lost someone going across the border,” he told the crowd. “But it was totally worth it….I’m not bullshitting you. I have family on Denman Island. I love it here.”

But if that’s the case, Keating, why’d y’all have to go an’ look so generally serious? Yeasayer don’t exactly exude warmth. Ira, yes. Chris, meh. Anand? Shy? Pissed off? Exhausted? It was like the band knew what they had to do and they did it. Which isn’t exactly rock, is it?

Earning the “Gig of the Year” label is tough  – good gods, how impossible would it be to be AMAZING every night? – but many of us thought Yeasayer would be sewing that puppy on to the back of their one-piece jumpsuits.

Yet live shows are about connecting the dots of the audience and for the audience. It’s about having the THING that causes jaded critics to gush about how an audience “fell hard” for a musician or band. Vancouver’s younger-than-expected crowd were certainly gagging for it. But Yeasayer weren’t…or weren’t as much as we wanted them to be.

Yeasayer have lots – tons – else (and go buy Oddblood).  But last night, it seemed like they’d kinda…sorta…just a little bit…checked out. \m/

Yeasayer live in Vancouver at the Commodore Ballroom was presented by Sealed With a Kiss.

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