Was it the waiting in the rain? Was it the confusion of the show first being moved from the upstairs Echo to the underworld Echoplex? Or maybe the half-hour-after-you-eat rule was in effect as the show was pushed up an hour from its initial start time (not that shows ever start when they're supposed to at the Echo)?Whatever it was, I am embarrassed on behalf of my fellow Los Angelenos for the reception that was given to Brooklyn, NY's Yeasayer last night.
Co-headlining with fellow East-Coasters MGMT, Yeasayer was poised to play their first Los Angeles show to a sold out crowd. It's evident from the initial billing that the draw of this and was underestimated-tickets were $8 (before fees) and the show was slated to play the tiny upstairs Echo. Over the past two weeks though, tickets had sold out and Spaceland Productions decided to move the show to the much larger Echoplex which also subsequently sold out.
The long line of people waiting in the rain were those who were waiting to buy tickets as I was able to walk right in.
Oakland's Port O'Brien opened the show to a somewhat empty house. I definitely recommend checking them out if you like the idea of Arcade Fire sans strings in place of a banjo. Their song "I Woke Up Today" is great. I'll be seeing them out again when they return to play with Delta Spirit in a few weeks (is it the Troubadour or the Echo?? it's double booked).
Yeasayer took the stage at 9:30 to a nearly full Echoplex and kicked the show off with "Worms". The technical problems of the first song set the tone for their set unfortunately. You see, it wasn't just the audience that tried to bring these New Yorkers down, the sound check apparently didn't occur on bassist Ira Wolf Trotters microphone. Not surprisingly, they work better when they're plugged in. As anyone who has their album All Hour Cymbals knows, this band's usage of vocal harmonies would make John Lennon proud.
After their second song "Waves", keyboardist/singer Chris Keating noted the lethargy in the crowd and mercifully tried to justify it to the weather or the early. Thanks for trying Chris, but the sad fact of the matter is you were right- It seems a lot of Los Angelenos go to shows for the sake of having the "Them? Meh. I saw them last year..." notch on their ticket stub belt. Yeasayer was one of the biggest buzz bands of 2007 thanks to Seattle's KEXP and Pitchfork.
After another commentary on the sluggish state of the audience, the crowd made an overly emoted effort to wake up but the falseness of it was spotted and called out. C'mon LA! Wake up!
Their masterful use of synthesizers and MIDI effects was one of the highlights of their live performance. At times, Ira made his bass sound like a violin with the Electro Harmonix HOG. Even drummer Luke Fasano used a loop and overdub effect for the intro of "No Need To Worry".
No Need To Worry
The end of "No Need to Worry" was the most unfortunate moment of the night. Chris Keaton, blindly tossed his maraca into the crowd at the end of the song. During the intro to the next one, a voice could be heard over the monitor "You hit a girl in the head.." The band stopped and the sound man asked "Who threw the maraca? you hit a girl in the head and it landed on my soundboard." After the band made sure she was alright, ice was thrown on them by most likely her boyfriend. Now, that sucks on all ends. But c'mon Echoplex...what was the point of interrupting the set and ruining Yeasayer's groove to tell them they did that? You could see they felt terrible about it and realized it was a stupid thing to do but the Echoplex should have waited till after their set to reprimand them. The time spent apologizing ate up their setlist and after they finished the song they had to restart (name unknown), they were told rather rudely "1 more, make it count". They finished with "Wait for the Wintertime". They didn't play "Sunrise" which surely would have been their closer.
To the people of Los Angeles,
if you go to a show and don't know the band too well or are checking them out for the first time let me offer a word of advice: Please, please, uncross your arms, stop watching the show through your camera, and dance. Or at least bob your heads. Something! Something to let the band feedback a little off the energy. Live music is give and take.
Wait For The Summer
No Need To Worry
Wait For The Wintertime
MGMT was a little lackluster after the uber-eclectic sounds of Yeasayer. I'm glad I saw them now. One more band I don't have to worry about catching at Coachella.
Let's just hope Yeasayer wasn't so deterred by the crowd that they return again. Along with fellow New Yorkers Battles, they are one of those bands that have to be seen live to truly experience.