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Nov 2008 concert 4: Yeasayer at Neumos

Due to a Thanksgiving/high-school-reunion trip home, I'm behind a couple weeks in writing about the remaining November concerts. Back on Thursday Nov 20, I went to Neumos to see Yeasayer. I missed their last show at Neumos early this year, when as I expected it sold out in advance. This time I was prepared and bought my ticket in advance, and although I'm not certain it did sell out the show was certainly quite full. Opening for Yeasayer was Icy Demons.

Icy Demons are a quintet on acoustic/electric bass and lead vocals, keyboards/backing vocals, guitar, percussion, and drums. The players switched up instruments throughout the show, with the bassist, guitarist, and percussionist all taking turns on additional keyboards, and even the drummer took a turn on electric bass for the last song. They played an eclectic and weird mix of art rock, funk, hip hop, soul, and reggae. At first they seemed to be all about experimental art-pop, resembling the Arcade Fire somewhat, but then the bassist announced they were playing a new song and suddenly he was rapping over funky soulful hip-hop music. Yet later one song featured an extended bridge with a driving rhythmic pattern resembling the music of Battles. They returned to the soul/hip-hop sound a few times, notably with the last song featuring the bassist rapping down in the audience while the rest of the band jammed onstage. Icy Demons were pretty interesting overall, and I picked up their latest CD, Miami Ice.

Yeasayer are the quartet of Anand Wilder, Chris Keating, Ira Wolf Tuton, and Luke Fasano on keyboard, guitar, bass, and drums. They played a solid hour of progressive rock with psychedelic, folk, and Eastern influences. Four-part choral harmonies feature in much of the vocals, while the music varies from light and folky through anthemic to a bit heavy. They had a very full, complex sound that was well-mixed in level, never too loud for the space. Their music sounded very old-school prog to me, taking cues from the Beatles and old Pink Floyd, but still fresh rather than dated. In a sense Yeasayer are a prog band for people too young and hip to know late-Sixties/early-Seventies prog rock. Most of their songs were still unfamiliar to me, although I recognized the singles "2080" and main set-closer "Sunrise"; my friend Jacquie said that some of the songs were new and they're supposed to be releasing a new album early next year. (You can see their full set list here on Flickr.) The songs I did know sounded great, close to the album versions but still having the energy and spontaneity of the live performance. I'm glad that I finally got to see Yeasayer, they definitely lived up to the promise of their singles, and I'm looking forward to hearing more from them in the next year.

I took a few photos of each band, you can see them starting here.



I still have another review to write, of the Minus the Bear/Annuals show I attended two days later, and I hope to get that done tonight or tomorrow. Tomorrow I plan to go see Hotels again, at the Comet Tavern, and I'm still considering whether to try catching Tuatara at Neumos on Wednesday. Nothing in particular's on the horizon for January, but I'll be checking the calendars as it gets closer.


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