Each week, Lizzy Goodman guides you through the dirty streets of rock and roll.
The weirdest obsession came over me while I was watching Yeasayer play at Music Hall of Williamsburg last night. The band is currently gearing up for next week’s release of their new album, Fragrant World (Secretly Canadian). Perhaps in reference to the album title, the stage at Music Hall was overflowing with flowers, a wreath of lilies ringing singer Chris Keating’s keyboard. But the vibe was more dystopian than giddy, like we’d all shown up to a party celebrating the end of the world. It was an appropriate sentiment, since earlier in the evening Twitter feeds were rife with reports that Brooklyn was flooding due to violent out-of-nowhere downpours.
“It seemed totally believable, amidst the kaleidoscopic light show and building, churning heat of the crowd, that the on-stage arrangements might spontaneously combust in a display of avant-garde pyro.”
Perhaps it was the sense of vague danger outside, or all the cheap red wine I had at dinner, but while Yeasayer were powering through their first few new songs I kept hearing “Disturbia” playing like a secret undercurrent beneath the band’s new songs. If you think about it, good Rihanna (aka, the good girl gone bad) is the physical avatar of Yeasayer’s sensibility: Pain and longing and ecstasy communicated by gothic, jewel-toned, sexually charged production. I was absolutely convinced last night that they should produce her next single, and even after I woke up this morning to a sunny day and a world that has not yet ended, I still thought it was a good idea.
As for the show, I can’t describe it better than the girl texting in front of me did to a friend that couldn’t get in: “I’d love to tell you you’re not missing much but … you are missing everything. Meet for a drink after?” Fragrant World is Yeasayer’s third record, the album in rock trajectory where a band has to go from promising to formidable or risk relegation to the minor leagues. For all the ecstatic noise Brooklyn rock has made over the last half decade, there have really only been a few legit breakout stars (Vampire Weekend and MGMT come to mind). Though Yeasayer have proudly called Fragrant World a darker and weirder album than Odd Blood, last night’s show had a sleekness and cool professionalism that demonstrates they’re vying for membership in that club.
“Maybe those bouquets will explode,” a friend said to me, mid-set, as the band really got going. I know what she meant. It seemed totally believable, amidst the kaleidoscopic light show and building, churning heat of the crowd, that the on-stage arrangements might spontaneously combust in a display of avant-garde pyro. But it was the moments in between songs where the band reminded us all that no matter how well-oiled a rock machine they become, they’re still just a bunch of sweet dudes from Brooklyn. “I rode my bike here,” Keating said with endearing awkwardness in between songs. “We’re from here.”