Anyone whose seen Yeasayer live can attest to the awesome power of their onstage presence. Their Neptune Theater show last week was no exception. Complete with a ridiculously cool light and mirror setup behind them, Yeasayer threw down new and old tunes alike and gave everyone their money’s worth. And for those that have never heard opener Daughn Gibson before, the man’s odd and enticing sound hopefully captured the attention of more than a few present.
At first glance, Daughn Gibson might freak you out. The guy is built a steam engine and dressed in classic western. He may or may not be singing with a mouthful of chewing tobacco for his entire set. His samples are all over the place and his arrangements are reminiscent of the experimental early days of goth artists like Nick Cave and The Birthday Party. But the uniqueness comes in the unabashed American setting. Gibson’s voice is deep and powerful, and underneath the samples and filtered drums are more often than not bare bones acoustic guitar and piano. By the grin on his face, Gibson likes the fact that he isn’t an easy sell. He loves his tunes even if you don’t get them. But for any intested, you should seriously check out this guy’s tunes. They are most excellent.
After gear shifted around and the other-worldly light setup was checked and checked again, Yeasayer entered and greeted the crowd. Anand Wilder stood stage right with guitar in hand and his collection of samplers and other gizmos off to the side. Ira Wolf Tuton walked to stage left, picking up his bass and adjusting the settings on his massive amp head. Chris Keating walked to stage center, where his alien-looking synth setup towered above the crowd. In the back, Jason Trammell mounted the drumset, as the 10 mirror panels behind him reflected every movement in a different direction. The band started in on Fragrant World track “Blue Paper” as Anand stepped up to the microphone. Keating played it cool on the first track, messing with a couple samplers and keyboards here and there. But with “Henrietta” and subsequent track All Hour Cymbals classic “2080”, Keating held to the edge of the stage, leaning up and over everyone present. Yeasayer were a dream to watch. Ira is a god on the bass – seriously, I didn’t know what half the sounds he made come out of that thing even were. In the same vein, Anand pulled out many of the lead melodies from Fragrant World that I could have sworn were synthesized on guitar! The band’s live arrangements were surprisingly organic for a band whose album production is so excellent. The band even pulled a couple surprises out for the crowd. A new 80s anthem version of “O.N.E.” had the whole crowd singing and dancing along and a fresh take on Dark Was The Night contribution “Tightrope” during the encore was a complete delight. But really, Yeasayer’s power couldn’t be communicated without pictures. So check out these pictures – they do a way better job of telling the story of their show than I can.