Wednesday, 3 March 2010

Yeasayer @ Brighton Digital

When we reviewed Odd Blood, the album by Brooklyn trio Yeasayer last month we called it a “decent and often absorbing electronic progressive-pop record,” but criticised its lack of great melodies or catchy hooks. A month on and we suggest that our original opinion was a little hasty. Whilst Odd Blood is far from perfect, it has some of those old fashioned qualities of being a bit of a grower. Some of the songs that we felt lacked cranium drilling ability have slowly holed their way in. It would seem that Odd Blood is doing the business with others as well - this Yeasayer gig being upgraded to the bigger Digital after the originally booked Brighton Audio had an early sell out.

Digital itself is not the ideal place for live gigs. Although the PA system copes admirably, obscured vision lines from structural columns and the rooms oppressive nightclub darkness seem to influence the crowd. There’s a more muted reaction than may be expected. However, blame can not only be placed on the inhospitable architecture; the band are the central cog here and tonight Yeasayer are simply functional. The new songs should bring more - more emotion, more power, more excitement, more dancing. Every track is competently played and performed, with main singer Chris Keating throwing some jittery hand shapes for good measure but it still lacks. It’s like stepping in voyeuristically on a well-married couple having sex. They know how things work, what to do, but there’s no heightened state of orgasmic euphoria.

It’s only on the funky Italian-house piano tropicalisms of Love Me Girl that the band move beyond the average to the transcendental and Ambling Amp unsurprisingly gets the biggest cheer of the evening. Yet it speaks volumes when the band have to jokingly chastise a photographer for taking more pictures of somebody in the audience than the band themselves. Despite the ambitious range of ideas on display, or maybe because of it, the attention is not firmly held.

“You guys have been great,” Yeaysayer announce at the end. We wish we could shout the same back, but we would feel a little bit awkward admitting to the group that unfortunately it was only faultlessly average.



As you know, we were at this gig too and agree with much of what you say/saw here.

However, having been to a billion gigs over time, much like your good self, I think we sometimes lose our context.

A bunch of guys hammering out some music is all it is and these guys created stuff on a very different level to your average garage band. Quite remarkable music in fact.

There was a moment during the layered vocal harmony of the track, ONE, where I nearly pinched myself. Ambling Alp was fantastically satisfying too.

I'll admit that the crowd didn't go mental for it, but perhaps we've forgotten in all the new pop that's appeared from the singles on Odd Blood that this band are in fact purveyors of rather spiritual, experimental music.

A slightly mixed gig yes, which perhaps wasn't entirely their fault, but I still left thinking how much better they are at creating music than most other bands out there.


Breaking More Waves Blog said...

Thanks for the comment Mike. Yes no question they created and played was better than most ,this is why I used the words "faultlessly average" and "competently played" - as they were faultless in that respect. It just lacked the big emotional impact that I believe they could be capable of, or that any great live music is capable of. The components of a gig are complex - the state of the audience, the band and the venue all interact with each other, and personally for me it didn't all fully gel. So for me it was a 6/10 gig rather than a 9/10 gig.


True, there's no denying the audience can have an enormous impact on a gig, and the best bands know how to control the crowd, but I wouldn't use the word 'average', in any context, when you consider how many truly average gigs we've seen...


Sophie said...

It was disappointing. I agree with this review. The band were very tight but there was very little atmosphere.