When I grow up, I want to be Karen O, the electrifying front woman for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. During their sold out show at the Aragon last night, O never lost the giant grin she wore while parading around stage and leading the band through some of their best songs and showcasing new work off their latest album, It's Blitz. You want to know what it's like to love your day job? Go see the Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
The stage shimmered amongst the backdrop of a glitter bulls eye, the white center spinning around to reveal an eyeball, a nod to the album art for the lead single off It's Blitz. The band opened with "Runaway," a down tempo track, and I was skeptical of the tone this song was setting for the show. But as the song swelled and O bounced around, setting off confetti into the crowd as she tore off parts of her always eclectic ensemble to reveal neon yellow zebra print leggings, it was a sure sign that although the band has matured on their latest release, the original style and sound would still be evident live. They launched into "Black Tongue," a gem off their debut album Fever To Tell, the heavy bass drum punctuating every yelp and bounce of Karen O and the crowd. The music is important but a huge part of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs live show is Karen O and her incredible presences. She prowls around and commands the stage, lurching over the crowd, striking and holding a pose before bending over backwards, her arms in the air, as she howls and shimmies in time to the music. She is the grown-up embodiment of every little girl playing dress-up and prancing around her room for hours to her favorite band growing up, and is pure joy to watch.
The band continued with a balance of new and old, the favorites sounding as loud and fun as always and the new material sounding much more rock live than the recorded versions. The new synth heavy album was only truly evident during a subdued section of the show, as the band cranked out "Skeleton" and "Soft Shock" while the giant eyeball changed into a moon, the lights dimmed low. Even the lead single "Zero" took on a new dimension in a live setting, showing the advantage of seeing a band live and witnessing the transition between recorded music to a live atmosphere.
The band closed out the night with the rollicking "Y Control," before exiting and returning to play a three-song encore. O bounded onstage wearing a hot pink Lucha libre mask as she launched into my personal favorite new track, "Heads Will Roll," the synth driven dance song that had the crowd bouncing along. "Art Star" followed, including O attempting to swallow the microphone while screaming into it, before finishing up with the brash "Date With the Night." The band clearly knows what songs work best for a memorable ending to their show. The Yeah Yeah Yeahs may have come a long way from playing bars and basements around the Lower East Side of Manhattan, but they've never lost their sheer energy, always dosing out mesmerizing live concerts and leaving sweaty and satisfied crowds after every show.