The first time I saw Yeah Yeah Yeahs was ironically the last time they toured — catching them at the Boulevard Pool in Las Vegas in between Coachella dates in 2013. It was the last year I wouldn’t attend Coachella and I spent $40 I probably shouldn’t have in order to go see them that night and I was floored by how iconic the band was — particularly frontwoman Karen O.
Wednesday night, a who’s who turned out to see the band pay homage to the record that changed the rock landscape. The night began with a screening of the short documentary about their first trip to Europe as a band. The audio wasn’t great and it was hard to hear over the chatter, but I was amazed by the kind of behind the scenes footage they had. Once the screen came up, the band sans Karen O was already on stage ready to rock.
Karen O came out in a ridiculously awesome outfit as one would expect and launched into the slow-burning “Modern Romance”, Fever To Tell‘s last track, indicating this wouldn’t be like every other album celebration where it’s played front to back. Then it was the album’s first track “Rich”. Things were into high gear by that song’s first chorus.
“We’re Yeah Yeah Yeahs — it’s been 14 years and we’ve still got the fever to tell!” Karen O shouted to an adoring crowd.
One thing I witnessed — few things excited a crowd like screaming “Boy you just a stupid bitch / And girl you just a no good dick” along with Karen O on “Black Tongue”. Watch the band give it their all on the song below:
All the phones came out for “Maps” as expected, and then the set-closing “Heads Will Roll” before the band returned for the encore performance. They played Fever To Tell hidden track “Poor Song” and fan favorite “Date With The Night” before calling it an evening. I don’t know who was sweatier — the crowd or Karen O.
A who’s who turned out in support of the show. I saw Kristen Stewart, Jehnny Beth from Savages, Beats Radio 1 host Zane Lowe, Romy from the XX, Peaches, and even actor Seth Green floating around in attendance. I chatted with Zane Lowe towards the end of the show, and he was highly complimentary of the YYYs. Clearly this is a band a lot of people have a warm place in their hearts for, and who among us doesn’t?
It wasn’t until I read Lizzy Caplan’s Meet Me In the Bathroom that it was fully apparent to me just how influential Yeah Yeah Yeahs and Karen O truly are. Now, I look around and see a little bit of her in a lot of leading women in rock who have successfully married raw songwriting with being an absolute rock and roll bad ass. I hear Karen O when Wolf Alice bandleader Ellie Rowsell sings “I wanna fuck all the people I meet / Fuck all my friends and all the people in the street / Cuz you bore me, you bore me to death” on the song “Yuk Foo”. I hear Karen O when I see Mitski bare her soul over some beefy bass riffs. Karen O’s thumbprint is all over today’s rock scene and that’s why we should all worship at her altar.
You can catch the Yeah Yeah Yeahs this weekend at Growlers Six, they also have shows in Oakland and Brooklyn.