Yeasayer Partied Hard At 20th Century Theatre
Who: Yeasayer & Delicate Steve
Where: 20th Century Theater, Cincinnati OH
The 20th Century Theater proved a fantastic venue for a band like Yeasayer to play. At first I was a little bit skeptical of how this band’s music would translate to a live show, but it turned out to be quite the party.
The venue itself was basically a wooden dance floor in front of a lofted stage that featured one of the most impressive light shows I’ve ever seen at a performance. Mirrors reflected the panning lights into the crowd and the purples and blues made the atmosphere perfect for dancing. Even more exciting, during “Ambling Alp,” white lights shone directly on two disco balls above the audience and the crowd went wild with screams and much dancing ensued. Yeasayer knows how to put on a fantastic show, not just play fantastic music.
But before the main band came on, opener Delicate Steve started the night off with some instrumental guitar songs. Often loud and often soft, the range of this band was incredible. Each song was unique in separate ways. Some were psychedelic and electro-centric, while others sounded a lot like straight rock n’ roll. Others were up-beat clap-able numbers. The main feature of the band was, above all, a prominent slide guitar took lead on just about every song. While this is a main aspect of a lot of more standard rock songs, the ways in which the different parts weaved together combined electro-synth music with mellow guitar solos. It was great.
When Yeasayer took the stage, the pit turned into a dance floor. When this happened, all of my reservations about how a live show would go melted away. They played all of their hits, a few new songs, and it always came off as high energy and crowd pleasing. What was interesting was that the live versions of some songs weren’t replicas of the studio versions. When they played “O.N.E.,” took a new turn, but stayed true to the essential features of the song. The rhythmic beats and lyrics remained, but the synth arrangements changed slightly to put a new spin on one of the band’s most famous (and entertaining) songs.
One fun part of the show was trying to guess what sounds came from where. In any given Yeasayer song, there’s so much going on that it’s difficult to take it all in. Sometimes a drum pad would sound like a guitar, sometimes a guitar would sound like a synth. When the bass played the ending riff to “Ambling Alp,” it was shocking because I was convinced it was played on a keyboard. But live, on the instrument, Ira Wolf Tuton flew up and down the fret board in a way that re-imagined what exactly a bass guitar (and bass player) can bring to a band. That’s a great way to sum up a Yeasayer show. They’re always inventive, but never overdone. They know how to get a party going and always come up as crowd pleasers. Old, new, beaty and rhythmic, each song created a friendly party atmosphere that had a consistent high-energy feel.