Karen O of Yeah Yeah Yeahs performing in Chicago, photo by Josh Darr

I sometimes feel like I come into most of these reviews with the need to be honest about something. In this case, my thought was what else can I say about the Yeah Yeah Yeahs that I didn’t in my previous review last September? Maybe I’ll just let my photos speak for themselves. I think the band missing their appearance at Boston Calling due to “the plague” was a large part of the reason of my changed mind but moreso the difference in shows and the overwhelming love felt throughout the evening was the true driving force. I can probably promise you the next time I arrive at a similar crossroads I will probably make the same decision to write another review again. Before I really get started though I want to mention how awesome the evening’s opener Sasami, I wasnt really familiar with a lot of her music but based on the crowds she’s ran with in her still young career Im not surprised with how much I enjoyed the opening set. Also such a super photogenic set! 

The evening was the first of many things, as it was the opening night for the venue’s summer concert season as well as the first night of Pride month and the band’s first night on the road for the second leg of their tour. This was also my own personal first getting to experience a show at Huntington Beach Pavilion on Northerly Island and I have to say I will definitely be returning! Once the stage went dark and the first thumps of the drum of the opening song, “Spitting Off the Edge of the World” ironically enough also the band’s first single of their most recent release, Cool It Down the crowd erupted. Theres a raised level of excitement and anticipation as we all wonder when the trio’s front woman Karen O will make her entrance, she is definitely someone who feeds off of the crowd’s energy and what better way to elevate It. As the lights flash, in the distance off the rear of stage left, a shadow of a figure emerges with guitarist Nick Zinner awaiting to greet her onto stage. And within a few more flashes of light she arrives on stage in her choice of evening’s attire elaborately designed by long time friend/stage costume designer, Christian Joy. A collaborating match made in heaven if I can say so myself as she seems to be able to capture Karen O’s personality and stage presence and recreate It in an explosion of colors, glitter, tassels and ruffles. Seemingly humble and gracious to be onstage she dances around and in almost true adolescent girlie fashion shows off her fancy outfit, she sang through that first song donning sunglasses that she ultimately took off showing off her additionally intricate made up eyes. 

A little additional background on my past experiences with seeing and covering YYYs live performances, it wasn’t too long after my first opportunity mentioned in my previous review when I saw the band in 2009 I caught them headlining the Monolith festival at the Ref Rocks amphitheater that same year and similarly to the photos I shot on a film camera much of that experience is a blur to me aside from the one fact to get to cover them on tour when the opportunity was available. In 2013 leading into a promotional tour for their fourth album, Mosquito the YYYs made an appearance at NPR showcase at SXSW in Austin,TX. At that time, the front-woman chose to wear a headlamp and a pair of eyepatch glasses.

My point in mentioning all of this is the expectation that has been set of the experience a YYYs performance will allow me to capture as well as the unknown variable to might occur throughout the evening’s performance. This evening was full of love, humility and a couple oversized inflatable eyeballs that were thrown into the crowd during their performance of “Burning”. What I’ve also forgotten to mention and notice through it prevalence in the evenings setlist is in April this year the band celebrated the 20th anniversary of their debut album, Fever to Tell. Karen O has built a career and presence representing so many strong qualities inspiring her young female listeners to embody yet in many of her songs she sheds a honesty and vulnerability beckoning for us to show her love. She did just that literally as well after admitting her survival from “the plague” when her voice wasn’t hitting specific notes she wanted.

At one point in the evening, whether it was intentional we’ll never know the natural show person she is played off taking a tumble on stage. She had a level of humility in her smile as she was standing herself back up. When introducing the band’s now infamous love song “Maps” she dedicated it to loving the opener Sasami. She then continued with loving this person and that person before finally dedicating it to the first day of Pride exclaiming, “Queer love is fucking love!!” It was an amphitheater filled with love and shared happiness as they closed out the set with my daughter’s favorite, “Heads Will Roll,” experiencing the band live for her first time, nothing warmed my heart more watching her scream with excitement as the song began. The evenings encore embraced where the band came from and how they arrived on the scene with three favorites from their debut album and a collages projection of their past in true high school notebook fashion. I feel like that teenager in school right now writing the name Yeah Yeah Yeahs on that same notebook and drawing a heart around it. 

Spitting Off the Edge of the World 
Cheated Hearts 
Turn Into 
Gold Lion 
Heads Will Roll 

Poor Song 
Y Control 
Date With the Night