Batgirl Returns

Karen O: Still a deity worth seeing, even if you've seen it all before

Boo, Internet. You are a Karen O costume spoiler. When the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' KO turned up at Webster Hall last Tuesday night looking like a sex-dungeon Batgirl, resplendent in a shiny plastic onesie and bondage leggings, the first thought-bubble over your narrator's head was: Aw, she just wore that three days ago at Lollapalooza! Ack.

What the Web didn't spoil, thank god.blogspot.com, is the exuberant magnificence of seeing her in person. This particular show was the first time the triple-Ys had played their hometown since releasing the five-song Is Is last month. Six years after the band's debut EP, Karen O remains a bad-ass rock creature revered for aerial spitting and microphone-fellating—perhaps the only woman in a decade of zeroes now able to rock a hat-scalped tinsel Cousin It wig and make a roomful of dedicated assholes swoon. And so, when she giddily grinned during the Spider-Man 3–soundtracked opener "Sealings," all us jaded jerks grinned along. When alarmingly long-haired drummer Brian Chase, Scissorhanded guitarist Nick Zinner, and second-string six-stringer Imaad Wasif all stepped back to let her morph the glib bridge of "Art Star" into a beastly death-metal ROOOOOOOOAAR, everybody understood why. And when Karen mule-kicked an invisible ass to the fugitive pogo-stomp of "Honeybear," we all secretly wished we owned that imaginary posterior.

Like seeing Her Face on a grilled-cheese sandwich
photo: Willie Davis/Veras
Like seeing Her Face on a grilled-cheese sandwich

Gotta come clean, though. I saw the YYYs at one of those two 100-person Glasslands Gallery shows where Is Is's night- vision videos were filmed, so my Webster experience was a little different than, say, the 1,399 of you collapsing into paroxysms of joy every time Karen O sucked her mic head. Glasslands was the live-show equivalent of having dinner with the Virgin Mary; Webster, for me, was more like seeing Her Face on a grilled-cheese sandwich. It was still awe-inspiring, humbling, and moving as all hell, but I'd already seen it on the Internet.

 
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