At the Masquerade on Tuesday, Brooklyn-based indie-rockers Yeasayer propelled their already fantastic repertoire into something even greater, striking a fine balance between earnest sincerity and playful gratification. With both vocalists dressed in jumpsuits—Chris Keating in monochrome, Anand Wilder in multicolor—and a backdrop of large vividly colored cubes of ever-shifting light, the band’s fun-filled vibes had the sold-out crowd keyed up and eating out of the palms of their hands throughout their short but powerful set. Case in point: the guy next to me who kept chanting, “this is THE BEST show I’ve EVER SEEN.” There was more than one moment when the floor was literally shaking so hard I thought it was going to cave in, and I probably would have gone down cheering if it had.
With a particularly funky rendition of wonderfully murky and plodding opener “The Children,” Yeasayer quickly set into motion an energetic sequence of feel-good sonic confection, including upbeat and unsinkable crowd favorite “Ambling Alp” (word of wisdom: check out the music video, it’s insane and filled with nudity). The guys played the entirety of 2010’s synth-heavy, dance-friendly sophomore gem Odd Blood, smoothly interspersed with hits from their first album, the gorgeous, genre-bending masterpiece All Hour Cymbals, as well as their winning Dark Was the Night contribution “Tightrope.”
Yeasayer reached that utopian middle-ground that few live acts master, staying faithful to their quirky recordings while bringing a special kind of freshness to the show that makes concertgoers feel like their experience is unique. There was nothing contrived in each band member’s motley form of infectious enthusiasm—Keating jolted and swayed and smiled and closed his eyes as he crooned into the microphone; Luke Fasano seemed ready to get up and dance as he beat away at the drum set; Wilder and bassist Ira Wolf Tuton played their instruments as extensions of themselves, entirely focused and completely at ease in the stratifications of sound they were producing. The guys did not need to resort to any kind of gimmicks or over-the-top stage antics—they had nothing to prove but everything to show why they’re a band worth following.
The set concluded with a short and sweet two song encore featuring the buoyant, synth-drenched Odd Blood closer “Grizelda,” followed by the haunting percolations of All Hour Cymbals’ more organic-sounding “Sunrise.” The pair of tracks stood well together, both layering sinuous vocally-driven melodies over snappy polyrhythmic syncopations.
Like that of many bands, Yeasayer’s compositions have evolved into a decidedly more synthesized realm—sometimes to the point where you miss their more tribally-minded beginnings—and yet the artful progression and sheer exuberance of the band’s live performance proved that they are not only aware but in control of their own transitions, and far from selling out. The passion exhibited by every individual onstage coalesced nicely into an overall sense of mutual respect, both between band members and the audience. Further proving their down-to-earth charm, the guys actually came down and hung out with fans at the Masquerade’s modest little bar after the show. Through earnest encounters like this adding to their already genuine performance, Yeasayer continues to pile on more and more reasons for their unconditional love.
-Written by Hilary Cadigan