Aside from consistently showcasing a musically snug live act and a light show that calls for a mandatory acid drop, Yeasayer also loves to mess with its fans when choosing an opening act, at least at the band’s last couple stops in Philadelphia.
On the second and final leg of Yeasayer’s tour in support of 2010’s Odd Blood, the opening bands got weirder, and the set times got much later. A little after 9 p.m., the opening act—a fairly unknown artist by the name of Hush Hush—took the stage.
Let’s recap for a second before we move on. It was last year’s Yeasayer show at the Trocadero where Sleigh Bells brought their interesting to some and to others slightly annoying big-bass-dropping indie anthems to Philly for the first time. Those in attendance scratched their heads as they processed the newish sound and decided if they liked it. Months later, Sleigh Bells eventually caught on and received some above-average reviews from across the board. People seemed slightly dumbfounded by the boisterous guitar-and-vocal duo backed with the loudest drum machine in the history of the world.
This year, the Brooklyn dance/psych outfit raised the bar yet again. Christopher Kline’s solo project, Hush Hush, was exactly what Philly needed in anticipation to Yeasayer’s long awaited set.
Standing alone onstage, the lanky, bearded man began stretching just before he broke out his dance moves. Looking like an oversexed postman with short shorts and kind of a shirt and tie that was removed anyway, Kline slithered and gyrated all over the stage during his entire 25-minute set. His lone-man dance assault and grossly provocative sex lyrics had the crowd eating out of the palm of his hand. With such potential hits as “Bloody Sex” and “Pussy Cop,” Kline meant it when he demanded, ”I wanna make you cry/I wanna 69!” It was almost too deranged to be true and wildly entertaining. Without touching anyone, he essentially had sex with the entire crowd, and they loved it.
Hush Hush’s set made me want a beer, or a cigarette, I wasn’t sure. Some friends an I made our way to the balcony, the only place that liquor is attainable. Of course there’s an issue. A friend’s younger sister is not yet 21. Fake-ID anxiety ran wild. It’s a known fact that as long as you have a real ID in your possession, you will get in to your destination. I really can’t wait until I don’t know anyone below the age of 21 because I repeatedly find myself in these situations. No problem, though. One distracting question will compromise a door man’s attention to detail on an ID. Fact.
Smith Westerns were the second act. They took their positions and began to embark on what felt like the longest set that I have ever sat through. Musically, these guys were good. There’s just something about a band that isn’t terrible by any means but also isn’t great that just ruins me. Their set was tight but an odd set up band for the main act. Weirdly enough, the one-man dancing band seemed more fitting to set up Yeasayer’s set. Was it because they had to follow the wonder that is Hush Hush that made them sound so mediocre and monotone? I’m not sure, but the set dragged on and I am thankful for fake IDs and the numbness that my numerous overpriced Yuenglings brought on. I started with Coors Light but someone made fun of me.
Nearly 11 p.m. rolled by when Yeasayer’s stage crew began setting. Their setup music undoubtedly kept the drunk and growing impatience among fans to a halt as they bumped Bobby Brown’s “On Our Own” from the Ghostbusters II soundtrack followed by Q Lazzarus’ “Goodbye Horses.” It’s always great to hear the “other” Ghostbusters song.
The sold-out crowd gave a gracious welcome as Yeasayer scampered out to the stage and immediately began its seizure-inducing light show. The Middle Eastern-inspired chorus of “Madder Red” echoed throughout with each band member contributing the pinched, nasal melody that drives the song.
It wasn’t very deep into the set when Yeasayer revealed some new material, a highlight of this tour. “Henrietta,” a very different approach to the band’s song craft, was a nice change in the set. Chris Keating, one of the two lead singers, fronted this one, which sounded like a Police cover in the rhythm section. Not many tricks here, just a straight forward pop song. It was refreshing to hear Yeasayer create something so formal that isn’t layered in the synths. It showed that the band members can write a solid pop song with guitar, bass and drums, something not usually present on their records.
The other new songs, “Demon Road” and “Devil And The Deed,” were definitely more Yeasayer, with their tribal dance beats that feature a sort of tortured and dark pop sound not getting too far away from material on Odd Blood.
Whenever you go to these trendy indie shows, there’s always kind of a “look” that’s normally pretty consistent throughout the crowd. It was enjoyable to see a nice mix of people in age, race and fashion sense. When I say fashion sense, I mean people who aren’t deeply concerned with cutting a new pair of jorts for the show. Yeasayer definitely attracts a nice mix of people from bro to mom and dad. The couple who stood next to me were well into their 50s and knew almost every lyric, and they never stopped moving. Another man next to me looked on with binoculars, and he was roughly 50 feet away from the stage. It was an interesting crowd.
Yeasayer mentioned nothing in regards to plans of recording or when the band will be back on tour, but two years in a row, the group packed the Trocadero, brought some interesting opening acts and left fans wanting more yet again after ending its set at nearly 12:45 a.m.
—text and photo by John Stish