The Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Riverside Theatre Milwaukee, WI
April 15, 2006
Story and photos by Phil Bonyata
The Yeah Yeah Yeahs released their sparkling debut record Fever to Tell three years ago to great critical accolades and fan support. The band is certainly not ready to ride on their young laurels just yet. The New York garage rockers were about to show the two-thirds full Riverside Theatre just why.
Lead singer and punk peacock Karen O (her last name is Orzolek) is absolutely the center of attention. She roams the stage hungry and alive while strutting and preening all the while. Her sharp and abrupt movements played nicely with her orgasmic vocals that have a full range of bloodletting shrieks, sneering growls and underground post-punk beauty.
A vocal marriage of P.J. Harvey, Chrissie Hynde and Siouxsie Sioux. "No No No" had it's start/stop opening build itself into a fiery crescendo and then had Karen O fall to the ground while the echo of the last chord filled the hall. On "Man" guitarist Nick Zinner chopped and slashed his guitar around and through O's intimidating voice. Drummer Brian Chase delivered a raw and robust beat - understanding that clarity could be sacraficed for short but intense thunderclaps from hell.
With disco balls shimmering from all over the stage floor - the band showcased almost every song off of their sophomore effort Show Your Bones. Including the greasy thrash of "Mysteries," "Dudley" and "Cheated Hearts," and the country-soaked "Turn Into." The band is always riding the fine line between real musicianship and absolute abandon. They know this and nurture it with great skill. Meanwhile Karen O casts a striking image with her long, bare arms and legs, bowl cut hair, strange make-up and wild clothes. What she doesn't have is a too cool punk attitude like The Strokes - you see this garage diva smiling so often you know she is truly having fun onstage.
"Maps" played out like a grimy, minimalist love song blaring from some anonymous room deep inside New York's Chelsea Hotel. "Modern Romance" laid itself even more barren - with the chrous and simple chord progressions peeking through the cracks in the spartan musical pavement.
With nu-punk bands breeding like dandelions and corrupting the spirit of punk and garage rock with their record label friendly music and safeness, it's so refreshing to see a band like The Yeah Yeah Yeahs recapture (and in turn revitalize) it's danger and dadaist spirit.
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