Yeasayer continue to ride a post-SXSW wave to global recognition

:: Yeasayer ::
:: Bluebird Theater ::
:: November 29 ::


By Timothy Dwenger

From the musical hotbed of Brooklyn, N.Y. is rising yet another electrifying experimental indie-rock band. Yeasayer’s rich blend of psychedelic, Middle Eastern and gospel influences create a genre defying sound that has been garnering global attention since the band first appeared at the SXSW Festival in March of 2007. Since then, they’ve toured the U.K. and Europe several times, ravaged U.S. clubs with electro-pop act MGMT, played countless high profile festivals, and even ventured as far from home as Australia and New Zealand.

It’s been a whirlwind year-and-a-half for the band and according to frontman Chris Keating, “It’s kinda become a real job at this point.”  Speaking with The Marquee while waiting to meet up with his father on a crisp October day in New York, Keating went on to say that “the European festivals make it possible to be a professional musician. Some of those bigger festivals pay you enough to exist for a couple of months of touring smaller venues.”

Fortunately for Keating and the rest of the band, the European scene has really caught on to Yeasayer and they’ve had the opportunity to play festivals like Roskilde in Denmark, The Glastonbury Festival and All Tomorrow’s Parties in the U.K., Hove in Norway and festivals in Germany, France and Belgium. “We probably played about 20 different festivals overall this summer,” said Keating.

In the midst of all the festivals, Yeasayer got a rare opportunity and took a break to open a run of shows for Beck. “I was a huge fan of his for a long time and it was really amazing when we got the call to do it,” Keating said. “He put out some of my favorite records of the ’90s and to get that opportunity to meet someone who I feel is a really great creative mind, an uncompromising songwriter, and someone who really pushes boundaries, was really exiting.”

It got even more exciting for Keating when he found out that Beck was “one of the sweetest people I have met in the music business. He’s very softspoken but very funny and has a lot of great stories. He is generally very interested in just talking to you and he was more than just cordial. He really went above and beyond being hospitable and engaging and we had a really nice time,” said Keating.

Despite the tight schedule, the two groups did get the chance to hang out a little outside of the venues that they were playing and in fact they got to party together on Beck’s birthday. “It was a surreal experience — singing ‘Happy Birthday Beck’ was pretty funny. We had a little cake and we did a champagne toast in Paris,” said Keating. “It was kind of otherworldly.”

Paris has been the site of other “other-worldly” events for Yeasayer this year. Back in February they were invited by filmmaker Vincent Moon to take part in his “Take-Away Show” documentary series. A “Take-Away Show” is an impromptu concert that happens “in the streets, in a bar, a park, or even in a flat or in an elevator,” according to, where the performances are archived. “What makes the beauty of it is all the little incidents, hesitations and crazy stuff happening unexpectingly,” said Keating.

It was definitely a little bit unexpected for Keating and the rest of the band, as they didn’t even realize that they were supposed to be a part of it directly after their show at the Nouveau Casino. “Moon showed up with his crew and they were like, ‘Let’s do something.’ It was right after the show and we were slightly disgruntled and were like, ‘What are we doing?’ We just started walking through the streets. He was very persistent and we ended up in a subway singing, and then we ended up in an apartment on the twelfth floor of some building. They had a piano and we were able to keep shooting and it ended up being this nice little 15-minute movie that he made,” Keating said.

The film is a fascinating journey into a world where an experimental psych band deconstructs their songs with astounding results. It really goes a long way to prove that Yeasayer’s songs are formed around core melodies that are capable of carrying the songs with little or no instrumentation at all.

While their debut album All Hour Cymbals is a strong album from beginning to end, chock full of interesting rhythms, complex melodies and tight harmonies, their live show is what has converted many fans. They are at home on the stage and the psychedelic visuals that are often projected over the stage, coupled with band’s raw energy and Keating’s awkward charisma behind the microphone, deliver fans a truly unique concert experience that will not soon be forgotten.

:: Yeasayer ::
:: Bluebird Theater ::
:: November 29 ::

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