Concert Review

Courtesy photo

Drummer Brian Chase poses while Karen O applies lipstick.

Christopher Bengtsson

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Lead singer Karen O charges the Soma with enough bravado and energy to launch a rocket into space. The rest of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs do not possess half the on-stage presence as their vocalist.

The New York band opened on Thursday the 28th with a surprising first, the slow pick-up song ‘Turn Into’ off their latest and second album, “Show your bones” (2006). It is a good promise of what is yet to come. Unfortunately, the quality of the sound isn’t the best.

It is too bad that lead guitarist Nick Zinner’s taut and tense guitar play were mostly tucked away and hidden in a thick sonic barrage for most of the concert.

The first stand out song is the humming old school ‘Cheated Hearts,’ also of the band’s latest.

The alarming ‘Gold lion,’ first single off “Show your bones,” gets the job done without much fanfare.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs then leap into a barrage of old songs from their 2003 debut “Fever to tell,” starting with the heavy-hitter “Date with a night.” It sounds like a helicopter is taking off from mid-stage, providing the perfect springboard for Karen O (Orzolek) to fall into the ecstatic fits that made her famous.

Drummer Brian Chase’s (who looks just like Jason Schwarzmann with a flair of menace) lofty drumbeat together with Zinner’s razor-sharp guitars and synthesizers is the perfect counterweight to Karen O’s antics.

To fit Orzolek’s mood, she was wearing an insane black and yellow swimsuit-and-tights, and neatly draped with a multitude of scarves. She is all smiles and feisty attitude, looking like a decadent pixie-harlequin crossover.

During a highly entertaining version of ‘Art star,’ a song from their first self-titled EP (2001), the volatile Orzolek wears a disco-ball on her head.

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were backed up by Imaad Wasif on acoustic guitars, bass and additional keyboards. Wasif earlier opened the show as well, prior the ‘half-time entertainment’ of the Eagles of Death Metal.

Despite performing a strong set and showing a wide range of their songs, from their earlier material and up until “Show your bones,” it feels as if something is missing. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs are loud and they certainly bring the gusto, but so do a lot of other bands.

It is difficult to dispel the notion that the band probably could have pulled this set so far off in their sleep.

But it is in the middle of this ambivalence when the Yeah Yeah Yeahs pull out their aces.

First up is an exquisite acoustic version of their breakthrough hit, Maps. There is a moment where Wasif ducks beneath the keyboards to fidget with some technicality and only the original trio of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs can be seen beneath the cold blue stage light. And for the first time during the gig the band seems like they are in their element.

Maps aims straight for the heart and takes no prisoners.

Once the indie-ballad comes to an end, the crowd is greeted by the high sirens of Y-Control, propelling the Soma into a rich shoegazing trip. It sounds terrific.

It is in this one-two punch of Maps followed by Y-Control that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs truly reach beyond their niche of artsy party rock and deliver something of a thicker density than a blitzing revelry.

The band shows up for a quick two-song encore once the set is over. It is nothing special though, and it sounds more like a crowd-pleaser than a real hunger to play more songs.

All in all, it was a good show put on by the Casbah at Soma. It had a twist for the better in the end, and brought some east coast flavor to So Cal on a lazy Thursday. Too bad the sound system wasn’t up to par, and that the Yeah Yeah Yeahs couldn’t keep the pressure on from Maps and Y-Control during the entire set.

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