I was too young for Yeah Yeah Yeahs when they originally hit the NYC indie rock scene, but I was familiar with the lore regarding their live performances: Karen O spits water, she wears outrageous outfits, and everybody has a blast. Now that I’m old enough to experience them firsthand, I’m delighted to confirm these traditions for the band are alive and well today. This past Tuesday, Yeah Yeah Yeahs returned to Dallas for the first time since 2006, and the crowd at Toyota Music Factory welcomed them back with open arms.
After an electric opening set from dance-punks The Faint, Yeah Yeah Yeahs stormed the stage. Karen O was sporting her signature bowl haircut and an obnoxiously patterned bodysuit that defies description. Though certainly dialed down from her early 2000s rambunctious persona, Karen O’s stage presence was no less commanding. I was on the floor about eight rows from the stage, and it was easy to forget the thousands of people stretched out behind me due to her surprisingly polished vocals. About halfway through the set, she addressed the sound crew to adjust some technical aspect that was imperceptible to the audience, and instead of deterring the show, the interruption provided yet another opportunity for Karen to demonstrate her gentle confidence.
The crowd felt like a priority for the band through gestures both big and small, including inviting participation with gargantuan inflatable eyeballs or repeatedly thanking us for coming out on a Tuesday. Guitarist Nick Zinner conspicuously snapped several shots of the audience with his film camera, while drummer Brian Chase looked like he wanted to be dancing in the crowd with us. Chase often thrust himself into a standing position at his kit, and the massive smile on his face was a permanent fixture from the moment he walked on stage.
My only criticism about the show is that I wish more backing musicians were employed. The three-piece band was occasionally joined by an additional guitarist, but the rest of the supplemental instruments were played from pre-recorded tracks. The sound at Toyota Music Factory is exceptional, so I didn’t mind too much, but I can’t help but wonder how much better it could have been had the stage been full of live musicians. However, I do admire the band’s commitment to honoring their DIY roots and relying largely on themselves to put on a good show.
Overall, seeing Yeah Yeah Yeahs live was surreal. I had always assumed they’d be one of those bands I love from afar, especially considering their nearly 10-year hiatus, so getting to experience them in person was extremely special. I hope it won’t take another 17 years for Yeah Yeah Yeahs to come back to Dallas, but if it does, I’ll still be here waiting for them.