Arriving at the ICA to see a live band in a gallery space for the first time, I was struck by a disappointing sound system that seemed to be forcing all four instruments into one distorted dirge. Supporting band Dragons Of Zynth - a wacky looking bunch from New York - seemed to strike the right poses but it would be unfair to pass judgement on the music. This caused me some concern for the headliners and my reason for being there, Yeasayer.
All Hour Cymbals, Yeasayer’s debut released late last year gained mixed reviews with its combination of harmonious singing, tribal drumming and mythical themes. The album initially lacked the infectious quality of the current crop of bands that are pouring out of Brooklyn. Unlike the other painfully cool bands long players, Yeasayers has stood the test of time (roughly five months) and continues to offer more on each listen. This led to me having high expectations but as I have learnt from experience, more often than not they have been dashed by a bands inability to add that extra dimension to playing live.
On this occasion I was not disappointed, as Yeasayer delivered an infectious and note perfect performance. The sound instantly improved on their arrival with all four instruments sharp and clean, distortion kept to a bear minimum producing the necessary space needed to allow the subtleties of each song to take shape. Starting the night with a song I assume to be new can be a blessing and a curse but it did not lesson the impact as it was apparent they had a presence without the need for gimmicks. Chris Keating held the centre of stage, attacking his keyboard in a rapid and vicious fashion but this was far from a one man show with each band member adding a unique quality to the package. Removing the sheen of the recording studio there was an added intensity driven by the energy and quality of the drumming but nicely balanced by each band members note perfect contribution to the vocals.
Not unlike their album no one song stood out, but there was also no lull - just a consistent level of carefully crafted songs performed with verve. This is a band that lead me to believe they will continue to change and grow, into what I am not sure but it will certainly be interesting.
Photos by Al de Perez. Register at Flickr to see more, or have a look in Surveillance.