Sydney’s Metro Theatre last hosted indie rock band Yeah Yeah Yeahs one decade ago. In 2013, history repeated itself with their presence on stage again, minus one memorable mishap. This time, lead singer Karen O didn’t lose her legs over the lip of the stage, injuring her head and back in the process.
With a leap of faith, the band opened with Rich, the same song that saw Ms O lose her footing to whilst performing in 2003. Determined to get it right ten years on, the tune was sung with a strong and steady stance, sending the message out that this is a band not falling from grace any time soon. Especially with so much set to accomplish this year after a quiet couple.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs are plugging in again, amplifying their sound on the brink of a comeback. Their new track Mosquito stung with the lo-fi sound of their earlier work, indicating that the anticipated album of the same name will tear down the disco that their 2009 record It’s Blitz! sounded so at home in. That’s certainly not to say the band won’t be having any more fun. With lyrics like “I’ll suck your blood”, Mosquito is very Rocky Horror.
With the new album’s release not until April, only a sachet-sized sample of new songs were offered to the crowd for taste testing. In addition to Mosquito, the slow marching Earth was an eerily spaced out track where O’s signature yelps punctured an alien sound scape. And as momentum swung toward the gig’s end, the also shiny new Despair was injected into the set-list with its regretful lyrics of wasted days.
The other two slices making the base of Yeah Yeah Yeahs whole, guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase were there as always. But cutting the pizza into fourths was additional guitarist, David Pajo, adding an extra layer of production, especially needed for the extravagant hit Heads Will Roll. These talented gentlemen are the band’s backbone, forever supporting the force of nature that is Karen O’s vocals and whirlwind presence on stage.
Just as peculiar as her interracial (Korean and Polish) heritage is, her outfit was also a hybrid. It fused together two equal parts, Elvis Presley and Michael Jackson. Adding to that white leather fringing and sequinned shock was a zebra patterned cape. This was later thrown into a sea of snatching hands and replaced by the studded sensation that is the leather jacket made famous from their video for Zero. The initials KO, seen on the jacket’s back, studded with spikes, could stand for ‘Knock Out’ as much as they do the lady’s name that dons it so well.
Karen lassoed her microphone chord around and often hung the piece high above her head, dangling it in front of her, so low at one point that she purposefully swallowed it whole and screamed, making the sound of Hades rising. Her exertion was fuelled by one sip of water then one sip of beer, but if that was too much of a mouthful she spat it out with a jet of spray. All this movement on stage, including plenty of arching back leans, she did with a gratuitous smile.
But Karen O wasn’t the only band member getting toothy with their expression, Brian sported a goofy grin and even the moody Nick Zinner cracked something resembling a grimace. The band had every right to be in high spirits. The maximum capacity crowd of approximately 1,200 would’ve only been populated by their most interested fans, especially considering they’ve sold out much bigger venues on previous tours here.
In front of an extremely supportive crowd, in a complimenting club like confines, it was one of those rare gigs that seemed to have all its elements at ease. If one complaint could be made, it would be the exclusion of their mega hit Cheated Hearts. And that’s how desperately one has to reach, to scrape the bottom of the barrel, and find a negative.