Maybe it was the heavy-breathing fog machine conjuring up a pre-smoking-ban NYC, but the Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Orpheum last Friday night made me nostalgic for when the triple-Ys came of age in the early double-0s — before yindies and yupsters and Grups and all that other Park Slopian malarky. It’s not that I don’t like the emotional density ofShow Your Bones (Interscope), but Karen O recently told the New Yorker, “We’re trying to make you feel a little bit cooler than you might actually be.” Fever To Tell instilled NYC-styled confidence better than Bolivian marching powder, but the meditative vulnerability of Show Your Bones turns that feigned assurance to mere dust.
Karen O may have pulled a Frankie and gone to Hollywood, but even with the less brash songs and the mushroom-cap bowl cut à la Dorothy Hamill, she’s still a sexy rock-and-roll creature with drum-majorette moves, mommy-long legs, and a neckless giraffe’s gait. Entering amid the intro throb of “Cheated Hearts,” the YYYs initially seemed detached, like they’d been prematurely transplanted to a Hard Rock Café trophy case. B ut once Karen O got past the “ooh-ooh” triplets of “Gold Lion” and stuck out herFever-ish “Black Tongue,” the glass shattered and we were all one in the same.
For the four-song encore, guitarist Nick Zinner — Edward Scissorhands of the Lower East Side — came out and mumbled into the microphone guiltily, “This is my hometown.” (He’s from Sharon.) His Jersey Girl partner, who hadn’t yet addressed the crowd, prefaced their star-making song “Maps” by individually dedicating it to the band members’ romantic loves. (N o word of Spike Jonze’s successor — Karen O’s love was us . ) Then the audience-applause-selected “Date with a Night” segued into “Warrior,” followed by the sobering abyss of “Modern Romance.” Then the lights went up. Everyone seemed a little less cool.
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