Yeah Yeah Yeahs at First Avenue, 6/24/13

Categories: Last Night
Photo by Tony Nelson

Yeah Yeah Yeahs
With Maximum Hedrum
First Avenue, Minneapolis
June 24, 2013

Karen O is an unbridled indie-rock dynamo. And during Yeah Yeah Yeahs' explosive 80-minute set at a very sold-out First Avenue on Monday night, Karen led the packed club through her twisted, blistering brand of calisthenics. She and the band gave the passionate crowd a forceful look back at their untamed musical roots, as well as the mercurial direction they're heading in the future.

Confetti repeatedly rained down on the smiling faces of the crowd, who turned the floor of the Mainroom into a roiling mass of dancing as everyone did their best to keep up with Karen and her boundless energy.

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Slideshow: Yeah Yeah Yeahs at First Avenue, 6/24/13

The set started with the ominous new song "Under the Earth," with drummer Brian Chase providing the track's restless rhythm while Karen's vocals had a heavy dub effect on them. "Thank you very much, Minne!" proclaimed Karen excitedly, before she blew a stream of water into the air as guitarist Nick Zinner kicked in the gritty guitar riffs of "Black Tongue" and the party was officially on. Karen danced about wildly in her yellow rhinestone suit jacket, Michael Jackson tee, and shorts combo, releasing the first of many confetti bombs that augmented the festive spirit of the 10-year-old track.

The start of the set was a tempestuous mix of both brand new songs and really old numbers, as they followed a guitar-fueled take on "Slave" with an abrasive and experimental run-through of "Art Star," which found Karen donning a massive sparkling wig and sticking the microphone's head entirely into her mouth while she unleashed her primal banshee-like wail. "This one goes out to you, Minneapolis! First Ave!" Karen screamed as an intro to "Art Star," and indeed it seemed like the band was truly happy to be back playing one of their favorite rooms on the road (having been toured around the city earlier in the day by Har Mar Superstar, who brought them to lunch at Quang followed by some thrift-store shopping).

Photos By Tony Nelson

The lethal one-two punch of the crunchy "Down Boy" and the towering majesty of "Heads Will Roll" really set the place off, with Karen serving as a maniacal subversive cheerleader, getting the crowd to jump in time with her to the tracks' infectious, irresistible rhythms. "Monday Night, Minneap!" shouted Karen as the band caught their breath for a moment, before she and Chase led the crowd through an impromptu "We Will Rock You" chant that eventually morphed into the familiar strains of "Gold Lion," which again brought a confetti explosion.

Karen, Nick, and mulit-instrumentalist David Pajo (who has been touring with the band since 2009) all retreated to keyboards to add their own haunting texture to the hushed, eerie mood of the simmering "Subway," which again showed their longtime fans that even though they have toned down their once-feral art rock, they haven't stopped experimenting. Karen left the stage briefly for an outfit change, with Zinner taking advantage of the opportunity to satisfy his photographic cravings by snapping plenty of pics of the animated audience.

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