I went to this show, in the middle of my school week, only to check if Clap Your Hands Say Yeah still deserved my money and attention. It was important to me because I really like their first album and just like OK their new one, Some Loud Thunder. I wanted to see if those new songs had the charming the old ones had on me the first time I heard them live.
Cause that's how it worked for me last time actually. I had the pleasure of listening to their self-titled album in a live setting before I did on record, and I loved it (I still do), but with their second one it didn't happen like that, apparently all CYHSY fans live in the NYC area and left me with no ticket last time they played Mercury Lounge. So that's why I wanted to hear the new songs live and I am glad I did.
CYHSY is still a wonderful band. A cool singer dressed like I did when I was 17, an energetic member, Robbie Guertin, who doesn't stop dancing and playing whatever he finds on his way, a couple of tense looking siblings playing guitar and bass, and an openly Guns N' Roses fan as their drummer. So just with their characters and without spending much money, they put on quite a show.
We were wondering what song they were going to start with. Last time I saw them, they obviously started with their Clap Your Hands!, but this time it wasn't clear. They begun with In This Home On Ice. I like when bands start playing their old hits at the beginning of their shows... it's like giving a "if you only came for our old hits... cool, after this you can now go home" kind of thing and then non very interested fans leave some more space and air to dance, but it didn't really happen, they just chose one of their old songs to start... it's just that most of their old ones are old hits!
Without talking they quickly continued with the new ones Mama, Won't You Keep Them Castles In The Air And Burning? and new live favorite Satan Said Dance. Here I started feeling what I mentioned already. I wasn't really liking Satan on the album, but live it was so energetic that you couldn't stop half jumping or moving your head, and those weird noises they added for that song at the studio, they now just made sense. In general, not only for this song, doesn't it take time, or a live show, or the appropriate mood, for some CYHSY songs to make sense? It's like if their songs where behind some fog they want you to go through. I find that interesting and with the rewards I usually get from that process with them, after a show like last night's, I will keep doing it.
Did they play next Love Song No. 7 or Emily Jean Stock? Those are a couple of my favorite ones on their new record. You know? I think they played Emily Jean Stock. I guess I am just confused because then they played six consecutive songs that blew me away like if it was my first CYHSY show and made everybody sang in unison: Is This Love? / Over and Over Again (Lost and Found) / Gimme Some Salt / The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth / Details of the War / Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away. If the show had finished right there, this would have been one of the best shows I had seen this year, but I would have felt also that CYHSY hadn't done anything else since 2005.
Not everything was perfect though. There was one song, Details of the War, which sounded just like if you take away all of its ornaments and play it sort of fast with an unpleasant U2 vibe. Thank god (and really to their great taste) it was only that song, the rest were very well interpreted and re-interpreted to my ears.
The show finished with my all time favorite CYHSY song, Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood, which by the way, should win a prize for being one of those perfect songs to close an album (and a show). I don't know why but I feel so close to Alec Ounsworth while singing the chorus of that song
They Are Child Stars, Child Stars, Child Stars...until my voice cannot keep working anymore.
Encore? Sure. CYHSY now has two albums and encore times are properly up for their shows. They gave us Underwater and Heavy Metal. Although I would have changed the order of the songs a little bit and added the great closing album track Five Easy Pieces, this was a tighter set than last time I saw them. But as always, I might be full of shit... it's not me who has a band, who has a damn special voice, and put out two great indie rock albums. We'll see what happens next... I am looking forward. [photos of the show]
Were you at the show? How did you like it?
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Links: Official Website, MySpace, Live on NPR