The lights dropped down low at The Vic in Chicago’s Lakeview neighborhood, just after the curtain revealed a mishmash of shapes in the background. Yeasayer was about to play to a jam-packed crowd on Aug. 22, 2012, to kick off their tour, a day after the release of their third full-length album, Fragrant World. In true Yeasayer fashion, the band walked onto the stage as a distorted recording filled the theater, similar to “The Children” from 2010’s Odd Blood. Just as the quartet began, vibrant lights billowed over, around and through the crowd, a perfect supplement to the band’s psychedelic flair.
Yeasayer’s first album, All Hour Cymbals, was released in 2006 and is the most melodic of their three albums. Since then, Brooklyn-natives have changed their style in each release. Odd Blood was a poppy album, although inspired by a LSD trip, the band blended pop beats with hints of Middle Eastern influences, psychedelic tendencies all backed by funky electronics. Receiving high praise, rightfully so, Odd Blood was their breakout album. It had just enough catch to hook the pop crowd, and plenty of spunk to prove to be a one-of-a-kind release. The band’s newest release, Fragrant World, is different. While the band still maintains its genre-blending personality, the album is darker. Stacher, Anna Holmquist explained it best, “It’s like the dance music of the apocalypse.” Even though many of the tunes are about love, Fragrant World, is a whole new breed of Yeasayer.
A Yeasayer show is much like one could expect. At any given time, lights shined in bright purple, yellow, orange, blue, green and any combination imaginable. For this tour, the band touted props adding a whole new dimension to their light show. A large mirrored fixture was set in the background, and the band’s speakers lit up like floating boxes in a video game. Spotlights reflected off the mirrors while a constant fog filled the air. Yeasayer has always embraced an organic sense, despite the electronic backbone of their sound, and at The Vic they had the audience floating through water and into the sky. Lights didn’t just beam down, but instead maintained a steady vibration for much of the set.
No surprise, Yeasayer played much of their newest release. Although much of the crowd hadn’t had time to memorize the lyrics over night, the dancing never stopped. Songs like “Longevity,” “Demon Road” and “Devil and the Deed” had the crowd moving along with the bouncing lights. The band played one song from their first album, “2080,” and only a few hits from Odd Blood.
First single off their new album “Henrietta,” is a spacious song embracing the wavy sound at a new level.
The tune starts off upbeat, but when it mellowed down, the lights turned into a hazy fog. Bright golden lights shined from behind, mimicking the sunrise. It was pleasant and relaxing. Much of Yeasayer’s music is ideal for an outdoor venue, and during “Henrietta” the audience was transported outside for just a few minutes.
Picking up the pace for a while, Yeasayer chose to play a remixed version of “O.N.E.,” one of their most popular tracks from Odd Blood. After a long intro, the tune caused a break out of yelps and ensued a sing-a-long, but the band’s mellowed version of the track was slightly lackluster. As much of their new music doesn’t pack the same punch as tracks from Odd Blood, it would have been nice to have a dance explosion for this catchy tune. But the last song before the encore, “Ambling Alp,” didn’t disappoint. Seemingly every audience member was singing at the top of their lungs, even those in the boxes that were hunched over their phones for much of the set. Lead singer, Chris Keating asked everyone to sing along with him, leaving the stage on the highest note of the night.
Closing the show, Yeasayer played “Tightrope,” a track not found on any of their LPs. The fan favorite is a feel good tune, and was the perfect end to the night. In comparison to the group’s visit to Chicago following the release of Odd Blood in December 2010, Yeasayer’s performance was high-energy even during slower tunes. The addition of Fragrant World to their set list adds a whole new dimension, creating a psychedelic rollercoaster of peaks and valleys.
Yeasayer at The Vic Theatre on August 22, 2012 setlist
- “Fragrant World”
- “Blue Paper”
- “Madder Red”
- “Demon Road”
- “Folk Hero Shtick”
- “Reagan’s Skeleton”
- “Ambling Alp”
- “Devil and the Deed”