As for Deadelus, I couldn't have imagined a better opener for a band as eclectic as Yeasayer. Dressed to the nine's in an all black shirt, tie, vest and napoleanic sideburns, Deadelus is a rare DJ who's fun to watch perform. Instead of a mousehead mask, insane lighting rig, or bizarre pointless miming, you just saw a guy performing on his monome. That's all he needed, as the small crowd was still an enthusiastic one, giving a loud applause as he exited the stage. As always, the set was different than the last one of his that I saw (April 6, 2011 at Soundlab), but I enjoyed seeing him embrace some more downtempo sounds. Deadelus always manages to give his sets the feel of pop music without sounding pandering or pretentious, this is mostly due to the great vocal sampling he does. Vocal heavy sets can often be tiresome and cheesy but Deadelus mixes his vocals with staggering tastefulness, never distracting from the other elements but still existing on their own.
After a lengthy breakdown, Yeasayer took the stage and opened with new single "Henrietta". The crowd had filled out a little better by this point, and most of them seemed to be familiar with the song. The production heavy studio track was served nicely by the more live feel, giving prominence to the great three part harmonies that ride out the song. The band was flanked on all sides of the stage what appeared to be circular glass mirrors. Colored lights lit them up, giving the background lighting a unique and steady movement. I enjoy unique light shows, so this was a treat. It wasn't until the band broke into Odd Blood favorite "One", that the light show took a step up. White beams filled the room from the floor of the stage, giving the appearance that the entire stage was a giant disco ball. This was somewhat nostalgic as I remember the days when Town Ballroom would unleash it's own giant disco ball from the ceiling, which was always a show highlight, but more on that later.
Here's a video of "One" taken by buffgrl75. Thank you buffgrl.
Of the new tracks, I also recognized "Longevity" a beat that would feel at home on an Eryka Badu album, and "Reagan's Skeleton", one of the tracks I managed to hear earlier during Yeasayer's secret youtube stream of their entire album. "Reagan's Skeleton" was an instant hit with the crowd, and will likely be an ongoing live favorite.
buffgrl75 strikes again. You're on fire grl.
Other favorites were tastefully worked in with the new songs. "Madder Red" transitioned smoothly out of new song "Don't Come Close". There was also another interesting new one, I think it was called "Demon Road", that was a dub sounding number with an off putting time signature. The new stuff overall has a very dub/reggae feel, and the varied yet complementary vocals displayed by Keating, Tuton and Wilder are what set the band apart. I love M83, but the vocals at their show were so drenched in filters and compression it sounded almost alien. Yeasayer has a much more natural approach, making even their most electronic elements feel organic and unique.
Despite the underattendance, the band obliged the small but raucous crowd with a three song encore, "Fingers Never Bleed", "Tight Rope", and "Folk Hero Shtick". The long encore was appreciated, considering it was 10:40 pm and I'm not even used to having a beer before now. The icing on the cake was how the band utilized the now defunct Town Ballroom disco ball (and there's a rumor going around that it isn't defunct at all) by pointing their lights up at the hole in the ceiling where it hides, causing the beams to shower down on the crowd. here's a quick pic I took with my shitty cell phone:
This got a huge reaction from the crowd and it was one of my favorite concert moments of the year. I hope Yeasayer felt the love enough to come back, because the crowd that was there seemed enamored with the show. Perhaps someone should tell them that the Queen City is a classy lady, she only gets freaky at night.
header photo by Taryn Alper