Not many bands of any genre can match the versatility of the YYY's, as Karen, drummer Brian Chase, guitarist Nick Zinner and stand-in instrumentalist David Pajo (Slint) showed last night. From the opener "Shame and Fortune" - synthy and brooding, like an Erasure song - to the punky follow-up, "Black Tongue" through the riff-driven "Phenomena" they sounded great.
Switching up her accessories frequently (scarf made of giant gold sequins for "Gold Lion," werewolf mask for "Miles Away) Karen kept the ladies in the crowd guessing about her fashion choices, to great effect. Conferencing on stage and playing "Tick" after seeing a sign in the crowd during the encore, they also showed they're pretty down-to-earth for such a seemingly odd bunch. It seems weird to think of the YYY's eventually taking this show to amphitheaters and small arenas, but if you'd asked me seven years ago whether they'd be playing rooms this big three albums in, I probably would have doubted you. Karen's performance artist streak carried well in clubs, I'd say, but she couldn't cut it in a place as big as the Marquee. Boy was I wrong.
"Shame and Fortune"
"Heads Will Roll"
"Date with the night"
Last Night: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs at The Marquee Theatre in Tempe.
Better Than: Probably any show I've seen at Marquee.
Personal Bias: I first saw the YYY's playing in support of the self-titled (Master) EP at The Grog Shop in Cleveland Heights and have been a fan ever since.
Random Fact: That Cleveland Heights show was something of a homecoming show for Karen and Brian, as they're both Obies. Maybe it's that I'm tuned-in to such things, but I thought I spotted a lot of Cleveland-themed clothing in the audience last night.
Further Listening: "Heads Will Roll," from the new record, is incredible, as is "Bang," the band's first notable song. Oh, and have you heard those KO At Home demos?
One More Thing: Anyone else remember how this YYY's got their big break? At the height of his band's influence, then impossibly-cool Strokes' guitarist Albert Hammond Jr. wore their button on his guitar strap while performing on Saturday Night Live. That seems so very long ago.