Odd Blood by Yeasayer has been steadily gaining more spins in my playlist as each week of 2010 passes by. The album initially gave me a feeling of disappointment but as all the best albums do, it grew on me. With songs as strong as "Ambling Alp" and "I Remember", I figured that I had to catch their live show. However, when I went to purchase tickets, I discovered that the show at the Paradise on May 3, 2010 in Boston, MA had already sold out. As fate would have it, I was granted another chance to see the band when my friend informed me that there were performing a free outdoor show at Northeastern University on Saturday, March 27, 2010.
I was surprised at the lack of publicity for the performance but certainly thankful someone mentioned it to me. There was no way that I was going to miss a free performance at my alma mater located right down the street. The night was a particularly cold one having just snowed the day before but that didn't stop students from packing into Centennial Plaza. Everyone was bundled tight and the campus looked like an Urban Outfitters catalog (props to Nicole for this observation). The opening band, Southern Belle, was already well into their set when I got there. As I previously wrote, I enjoy the band quite a bit and they sounded good although I must have missed "Conditional Love" which is my favorite song of theirs. I did get to hear "Just Friends" and liked it much better with the full band as opposed to the version I saw with just half of them.
After an exceptionally long set change, Yeasayer finally took the stage. The band looked much different from what I had seen in early videos of them. Listening to the sound of their new album, you know this is because they have drastically evolved. The set opened with "The Children" which is by far my least favorite song of theirs. When the warped vocals came in, it sounded really cool, but in my opinion that song is really only a collection of fascinating sounds. Thankfully, the band immediately kicked up the pace with "Rome" which I find to be a severely underrated song from Odd Blood.
From here on out the performance was solid gold. One of the remarkable things about the group is their ability to recreate sounds live that when heard on record, you would never think they could. Nevertheless, the band doesn't shy away from experimentation either. With "Tightrope", they further Latin flavor making it an even more enjoyable upbeat jam than it already was. "I Remember" is one of the best ballads in recent memory and the live version opened it up, added some texture, and made it even more powerful.
Each member incorporated their own unique contribution to the show and it came out in the production. Singer Chris Keating would bust into a song with unbridled emotion flailing his arms around as if he could morph the notes coming from his mouth with his fingertips. Songs like my all-time favorite of theirs, "2080", benefited greatly from this kind of intensity. The group seemed to be really into the performance stating "If youre happy, we're happy". Well, that would be everyone except drummer Jason Trammell who, to be quite honest, looked kind of miserable. Perhaps his beard wasn't keeping him as warm as he was expecting.
Anand Wilder served as quite the utility man switching between synthesizers, vocals, and guitar while dressed in a floral jumpsuit. He looked like Prince in his heyday singing "O.N.E." while playing guitar. That song received one of the larger responses from the crowd with many people emphatically jumping up and down showing it was clearly the right choice for the next single. The real surprise for me was how much more robust "Grizelda" was in a live setting. It sounded absolutely epic and featured Ira Wolf Tuton playing a fluttering, synth-like bassline on his fretless bass that had everyone looking at each other uttering "that is awesome".
The band skipped the encore theatrics by stating that they would play a couple more tunes then take off. Keating joked, "There is a sniper out there who is going to shoot us if we don't leave immediately." They closed with the single "Ambling Alp" which I've declared to be one of the most undeniably awesome songs of 2010 many times on this blog. It retained it's grand ambiance thanks to the percussion flourishes by Ahmed Gallab and recieved a huge reaction from the crowd for which the band was appreciative. By the end, everyone was freezing and eager to get to the nearest pub to warm up and discuss the outstanding performance they just witnessed.
Below are two videos from La Blogotheque's Take Away Shows. They serve as excellent examples of how much heart the band plays with especially the breathtaking rendition of "2080".
Yeasayer - "No Need to Worry" / "Red Cave"
#87.1 - YEASAYER - No need to worry / Redcave
Uploaded by lablogotheque. - Music videos, artist interviews, concerts and more.
Yeasayer - "2080" / "Tightrope"
#87.2 - YEASAYER - 2080
Uploaded by lablogotheque. - Explore more music videos.
If you haven't already hear it, make sure to give Odd Blood a listen below.