Review: Yeasayer at Turner Hall Ballroom

Words by Andrew Falk, photo by Melissa Merline

The press likes to make a big deal about Yeasayer‘s world music influences, but I think that’s a pretty odd aspect to highlight from this exciting, diverse band. Apart from some pre-recorded parts that the drummer triggered from a sampler, Yeasayer sticks to the standard rock band instrumentation of guitar, bass, drums, and keyboards when they play live. And their songs are strong enough that they shouldn’t need to be sold with some sort of high-concept band gimmick. This is not a band you can describe in one sentence.

Chairlift opened the show at Turner Hall with their vintage electro-pop, dripping with retro synthesizers and canned beats. Their set had a song or two to appeal to every character in a banal ’80s teen movie – the moody goth alone in her room, the puppy-lovesick couple slowdancing at prom, the friends taking a joyride around the suburbs. The band’s single “Bruises,” which was featured in an iPod commercial earlier this year, is their only infectious song, a lone crispy cracker sinking in the thick cheese fondue.

A more drastic turn I cannot imagine, as Yeasayer took the stage and added much needed energy to the night. Surrounded onstage by two dozen glowing, color-shifting orbs, their performances made the songs sound heavier and more epic than on record, and their drummer upped the ante at every possible opportunity. “No Need to Worry” had a vigorous backbeat added to its chorus that made the quiet-loud transition that much more spirited. They played a majority of their excellent album “All Hour Cymbals” and a handful of new songs as well, which ride their esoteric style to new, but not entirely unfamiliar territory; that is, the new tracks are great and they still sound like Yeasayer.

Their sound has elements of classic ’70s progressive rock, a little modern dance-punk in the vocals, some beautiful woodsy harmonies, the occasional glitchy electronic noise, and yeah, I guess there are a few Middle-Eastern inspired melodies thrown in there as well. Yeasayer is riding the hype train right now, but they truly are a talented band with an original vision and I hope they’re not forgotten when the next round of indie sensations breaks out, because I’m sure there’s a killer sophomore album just around the corner.

MP3: “2080,” Yeasayer


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