On Saturday, July 13th, Midtown New York City went dark due to a manhole explosion, throwing much into chaos, including trapping people on the subway system and even elevators (ironically/ominously, it was the same date as the much larger 1977 power outage, but no looting this time, because this ain’t CBGB’s-era Big Apple…). Those who could make it downtown caught the final night of Yeasayer’s month-long tour at Webster Hall (QRO venue review) – including its own, much more enjoyable technical errors.
Yeasayer formed in New York in the prior decade with 2007’s All Hour Cymbals (QRO review), a bold, refreshing and altogether original debut that included tropical and even Middle Eastern in its indie-rock. Since then, the band has moved slowly towards the more danceable (who hasn’t?), while keeping truly themselves. This year’s Erotic Reruns (QRO review) has been their most disco yet (meant in a positive way), making for a lively show.
Interestingly, the band didn’t start with the new stuff like most acts do on their tour of the album, but instead waited until third on the set list for Reruns’ “Ohm Death”, acknowledged that it was a new song, and said next was an old song, which was All’s “2080”. Thankfully the calendar hasn’t caught up with that date (no Prince’s “1999”), and it still sounds like it’s from a future yet to happen. But then came two new pieces, a great “24-Hour Hateful Live!” and “Let Me Listen In On You”, in which singer Chris Keating’s synthesizer broke at the start, requiring a fix.
And that wasn’t the only time the synth would falter. Maybe because it was the last night on the tour, maybe in sympathy with its electronic brethren to the north, after “Tightrope” (Yeasayer’s contribution to the excellent Dark Was the Night compilation – QRO review), the synthesizer went down entirely. When Keating and guitarist Anand Wilder’s (QRO interview) poking didn’t seem to do anything, out came the big guns, their roadie Ken, who pulled off the fix. Yeasayer took a time out to praise Ken [QRO doesn’t know his full name – not even 100% sure his first name is “Ken”], citing how he has worked at venues across the city, did “behind the scenes magic,” that without him the show/tour couldn’t happen, “Because we don’t know what we’re doing.” Then Wilder joke-threatened Ken with firing if the synth didn’t work on the next song, “You’ll never work in this town again!” Thankfully, everything was a go for maybe the most upbeat rendition of All’s upbeat “Sunrise” ever.
Of course, synth went down again during the following Erotic “People I Loved”, bassist Ira Wolf Tuton joking that it was time for bass solos, but after another fix, was good for the night. “Fluttering In the Floodlights” proved to be just as good a live show song as one thought it would be from hearing it on Erotic. For the encore, there were two more Reruns, “I’ll Kiss You Tonight” and “Blue Skies Dandelions”, the evening closing out with wonderful Odd Blood (QRO review) dance single “Ambling Alp”.
Jennifer Lopez and Broadway might have had to cancel on Saturday night, and Mayor Bill De Blasio might have gotten flak for being in Iowa on his no-one-asked-for Presidential campaign, speaking to less people than an MTA subway car (“New York is as electric as a De Blasio campaign stop,” someone said on Twitter), but Yeasayer delivered through it all.