It’s been more than five years since the last time I saw the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. On a cold February night, the frenzied trio packed the Beachland Ballroom but sounded a bit lackluster compared to their albums. And I couldn’t help but leave disappointed. Fast-forward to last night, when the YYYs packed another local venue, House of Blues, and the band onstage was transformed into a polished, venerable modern-rock act worthy of the bigger stage.
With a giant eye floating behind drummer Brian Chase, and guitarist Nick Zinner draped in dark light, toying with his effect pedals and guitar, Karen O stormed the stage with the earned confidence that comes with being the first diva of indie-rock.
Draped in a shawl and contorting her body in various poses usually reserved for a stretching routine, Karen O tore into “Runaway” from the band's latest album, It’s Blitz!, instantly igniting the dance floor. “Phenomenon” and “Black Tongue” followed, as the band mashed its way through a 15-song set, highlighting its three-album catalog.
While the band may not seem any more matured from its storied past (especially when Karen O took a big gulp of bottled water and then spit it all over the stage), the sound emanating throughout the band’s 70-minute set says otherwise.
Before, the YYYs sorely missed not having a bass player onstage, but last night they were joined by a keyboardist/guitarist who filled the void. It's a noticeable addition, and the YYYs are a better band for it.
But it’s Karen O who made the night, as it’s pretty much impossible to pull your eyes from her. Her star status was all the more cemented during the encore, when she carefully and emotionally sang the heartfelt “Maps” with Zinner accompanying on acoustic guitar. She then turned around to rip through the manic closer “Date With the Night.” —Aaron Mendelsohn