Yeasayer at the House of Blues

As Old Man Winter descended upon Boston, Yeasayer fans trekked through the storm with scarfs wrapped around their faces and boots sloshing through the wintery muck. Despite the onslaught of awful weather, fans breathed a sigh of relief as they found a dry and warm spot nestled in the House of Blues last night. With coats hung up to dry, the crowd was a good blend of teens, 20s, and 30s, all of whom were excitedly talking about which old-school Yeasayer favorite they were hoping to hear.

Yeasayer, psychedelic rockers from Brooklyn, formed in 2006 and are made up of lead vocalist and keyboardist Chris Keating, guitarist Ira Wolf Tuton, bassist Anand Wilder, percussionist Jason Trammell, and multi-instrumentalist Ahmed Gallab. While Gallab is still a current member of the band (and has played with Caribou, Of Montreal, Born Ruffians), he has began his own project called Sinkane. The Sudanese musician served as the opening act last night at the House of Blues with his afro-beat influenced, reggae-esque tracks off his recent release, Mars. Gallab warmed up the crowd with soft dance rhythms and echoing psychedelic vocals.

As soon as Sinkane left the stage, roadies scrambled to put up a massive purple semi-sheer curtain that spanned the length of the entire stage. The band wanted to keep their elaborate stage set-up secret as a few months ago the band teamed up with The Creators Project and software designer Casey Reas to add a little something special to the stage for this tour. Together the band and Reas designed a fully immersive light and art experience for their backdrop, a crystal-like mirrored installation that when combined with strobe lights and color transitions was a show in itself of glitch and trippy visuals to accompany Yeasayer’s psychedelic sounds.

After the brief intermission, the house lights dimmed and the curtain dropped to reveal the elaborate stage set-up and the band shuffling to their places amongst the darkness. Touring in support of their third and latest album, Fragrant World, the band started off the night with “Blue Paper.” Sometimes it takes a few songs for a performer to really get into the groove of the night, to find that vibe with the audience and to really get into the performance – Keating is not one of them. From the get-go he was fully immersed in the music whether he was beating on a drum pad, pounding a keyboard, or dancing in an eccentric and accordion-esque sort of way – contracting and scrunching himself together with his microphone before releasing to dance and shake it out between lines.

Highlight tracks from the set included “Henrietta” and “Reagan’s Skeleton” off of Fragrant World. As soon as Keating said, “I’m going to break out an old song,” it was clear that a good majority of the audience were old-school Yeasayer fans. As the night progressed, they played some classics off their 2010 hit-record Odd Blood. Wilder was featured on vocals for “Madder Red,” adding a more mellow twist to the otherwise electric set lead by Keating. Long-time fans were even treated to older tracks off of All Hour Cymbals that came out in 2007 like “2080” and “Wait For the Summer.”

The night reluctantly came to an end after the an incredible four song encore that included “Tightrope” – a track that the band recorded as a part of an AIDS benefit album produced by the Red Hot Organization. Surely neither the band nor audience were looking forward to facing the wintery mix that awaited them just outside the walls of the House of Blues – but at least we all had the adrenaline rush of the night to keep us warm for a little while.

By Jeeyoon Kim
Photos by Nina Corcoran

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