photos by Cami D
Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Venue: Glasslands in Williamsburg
Date: Monday, May 7
You know all the young dudeness has been siphoned out of a room when in the midst of a particularly “intimate” Yeah Yeah Yeahs show, during a particularly generous period of song-request acceptance from a particularly eminent major-label band, the estrogen pool of people in front of me is shrieking, “Keys!”
“What?” asks Karen O. She does not recognize this shorthand.
“Keys!” tweets the feminine flock. “Someone lost their keys!”
“O,” says O, her frontperson duties suddenly reduced to 865-PAG-your-car-is-about-to-be-towed formalities. “Someone lost keys?”
Weird, huh? A gamine gaggle temporarily halts a really tiny Yeah Yeah Yeahs show—so tiny Brian Chase would later let girls take turns on his drum set—because someone in the front (hell, everyone was in the front) dropped a set of keys.
Imagine dudes letting this happen. If there’d been men in the crowd, at least one of them would’ve shushed the key-finder, whispered that she should just give them to the bouncer, perhaps added a little something about shutting the fuck up for the art-star goddess onstage, and everybody else would’ve kept yelling “Black Tongue!” But this was an all-girls show that was somewhat cryptically announced via MySpace last week, the second of two free video live shows/video shoots for the song “Down Boy.” And here among 80 women who’d lined up earlier outside this Williamsburg art space for first-come, first-served wristbands (and Zorro masks), lost keys are the kind of harsh-mellowing detail that obscures “intimacy” in the post-factum annals of Remembering That Show. This was a memory to have with your keys.
According to one crew member, these two Brooklyn performances would also be the basis of a forthcoming “live five-song studio EP.” So before “Down Boy,” the YYYs played songs like “Pin,” “Y-Control,” “Phenomena,” and “Rockers to Swallow.” (Plenty of microphone fellatio on the latter.) The live EP is perhaps why they wanted one of the two engagements to consist of all-women: livelier, screamier background noise. Or perhaps it was just because drummer Brian Chase is a single man, a handy detail Karen O tossed out to the galleryful of ladies, possibly to stop the girls from contemplating how awesome it would be to go gay for her. They all would.
Video time. O apologized for having to lip-synch through two-and-one-aborted takes of “Down Boy.” When they had to redo it a third time, she told the people surrounding the temporary stage that “after this, you can have anything you want” and asked if someone could pass up booze. This led to Chase and Zinner slugging from a Grey Goose bottle while all the young dudettes chanted their names.
The whole all-girl thing—it was weird. Here, someone steps on my toe, she apologizes profusely. Elsewhere (i.e. Dan Deacon at the Silent Barn last Saturday), boy elbows me in the face, responds, “Oh well, I’m a douchebag” and turns back around. Here, people use the word “concert” and “club” to describe what’s happening. Elsewhere, this would be a “show” and a “gallery.” Here, one girl truly thinks she’s being clever by hollering, “Free Bird.” Elsewhere, she would’ve gotten a beating—and I would’ve lined up to deliver it.
But how can you be pissed off with Karen O sucking on a mic-head in your face?
Oh yeah. I should tell you— I’m looking at those of you who’ve actually revisited those Pitchfork photos of Kevin Barnes’s schlong—that Karen O got so into take’a-take’a-take’a-take’a-taking-it-off that she tore off her silver-swathed Spiderwoman get-up, only later to realize that she’d stripped down to a spaghetti-strapped nude-suit which was pretty much see-through. Yes, we could discern things she probably didn’t want us to peep—like, say, her plain blue-ish undies.
KO actually got kind of self-conscious about it after the fact, trying to cover herself up with this regal queen-of-black-diamonds cape she’d been using earlier as a prop, and admitting demurely, “I ripped off my outfit and now I feel all naked.” She finally sat on the floor, likely to escape the cameras, before deciding it was time for the “outro song” and led all the ladies out the back entrance to sing “Maps” on the South 1st Street sidewalk. To borrow a line from this guy: fuck you, I was moved.