Friday, December 31, 2010

You Missed Out: Yeasayer

If you're planning on seeing Yeasayer tonight for Metro's New Year's Eve party, then I guess you didn't miss out. And you'll probably get balloons and confetti too. That's why you paid the extra 20 bucks after all, isn't it?

Last night was the second time that I've had the pleasure of seeing Yeasayer live. The last time I saw them was two years ago when they went on that co-headlining tour with MGMT. And they played Schubas. I always get excited when a band I saw at Schubas ends up playing a NYE show in Chicago just a couple years later. The rookie's potential usually blossoms bombastically in that time.

As for Yeasayer, I had high expectations. I wanted them to come out fearsome like Rooster Cogburn shooting two pistols, holding the reins in his teeth. The crowd wanted it too. Drunk people were spilling their drinks on me before HEALTH ended their set. It was New Year's Eve Eve, and these people were anxious to party.

An interesting thing happened though. Yeasayer's slower, weaker-on-album songs were transferring into their live show surprisingly well. "Red Cave" was a gorgeous lullaby, showcasing the band's vocal harmonies and knack for restraint. But unfortunately, their big singles seemed to fall a bit flatter. "Sunrise" and "Wait for the Summer" were boring, as if half of the instrument tracks had been removed from the songs. And their best recorded song to date, "ONE" wasn't much better either. The only song that really kicked the energy level up was "Ambling Alp," the last song of their set.

With one extra player on stage since they played Schubas, and a percussionist at that, I'm still having a hard time understanding this phenomenon. My best guess is that instead of adding a player to increase the intensity, the choice was made so that their old drummer doesn't wear himself out.

If you've ever seen Menomena, you know how valuable an energetic drummer can be. Even though Menomena's songs don't sound as big live as they do on record, the near breakage of Danny Seim's drums more than makes up for it. "A for effort" goes a long way in indie rock.

I think Yeasayer could've put in a little more effort. Then again, I did just see Delorean a month or so ago. And that band constructed a mountain of sound unlike anything I've heard before. I could still be reeling I suppose.

So that potential I saw from Yeasayer two years ago at Schubas, I guess it hasn't been squandered, but it certainly hasn't come to full fruition yet. And they still have time. Yeasayer only has two full length albums out. I'm expecting AOTY-effort with the third LP. And those percussionists need to break a sweat. Maybe (hopefully) they were saving it for tonight.

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