Yeasayer at the Black Cat, Washington, DC, Thursday 10 April 2008
When Brooklyn quartet Yeasayer performed at the Black Cat Backstage in January, the show sold out quickly, leaving throngs of ticketless hipsters begging that the performance be moved to the larger stage upstairs. That didn't happen, but when the band returned to play the Cat's main stage on Thursday night, the crowds were again out in full force.
Yeasayer's brand of folk songs with tribal rhythms is reminiscent of Animal Collective with a more hippie bent. The new song "Tight Rope" featured three-voice singalongs of "aaahhhh" (with vocalist Chris Keating, guitarist Anand Wilder and bassist Ira Wolf Tuton) and rapid hand-clapped rhythms.
Keating was certainly impassioned. On "2080," and for most of the show, he jerked around the stage as if possessed by his songs, hunched over his microphone and oblivious to the audience, spewing lyrics as if speaking in tongues. It was almost disappointing when he paused between songs and talked just like a normal guy.
That was a notable difference from Animal Collective, whose early shows gained momentum as one long, constantly morphing piece. But Yeasayer's songs remained trance-inducing even with those breaks in its too-brief 50-minute set. The band didn't return for an encore, even though the crowd clamored for it to return for several minutes after the house music had been turned on.
-- Catherine P. Lewis