October 25, 2014

Scrolling Headlines:

Michael Kimmel speaks to UMass students about ‘Guyland’ -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

UMass football looks for third straight win against Toledo on Saturday -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

‘Love is Strange’ is beautiful, painful and groundbreaking -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

White supremacy and settler colonialism at UMass -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

UMass hockey hopes first win will propel them past Hockey East rivals -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

UMass’ second line playing and succeeding with young talent early in the season. -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

‘The Good Wife’ returns as strong as ever -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Professor receives grant to cover massive election survey panel -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Unions rally over recent concession proposals -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

NFL Pick’em games return to the Massachusetts Daily Collegian -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

UMass celebrates Campus Sustainability Day -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

“Fury” falls just short of greatness -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Minutewomen look to continue their season in weekend game against Saint Bonaventure. -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

New meal plans receive mixed reviews from students -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

ISIS’s magazine is good for the West -

Thursday, October 23, 2014

UMass women’s soccer controls its own destiny as conference tournament approaches -

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

UMass soccer deploys new formation with Keys, Jess -

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

UMass calling on young swimmers to continue strong start to the year -

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

WMU, Ohio, NIU pick up wins in busy MAC weekend -

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A comprehensive guide to the Ebola virus -

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Yeasayer delivers with avant-garde dance rock at Pearl Street

MCT

Returning to Northampton for the first time since 2009, Yeasayer played an energetic set to a animated audience at the Pearl Street Ballroom on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

Sinkane opened for Yeasayer, and though people were still trickling in, the experimental group got the crowd moving with impressive rhythms and tempo changes – a considerable feat for any opener.

Brooklyn-based experimental rock/psychedelic pop group Yeasayer opened with “Blue Paper,” a track from its new album “Fragrant World.” Droning synths from the double samplers in front of vocalist Chris Keating formed an ambient layer behind guitarist Anand Wilder’s soothing vocals and the complexly driving march of the drums. The almost tantric build worked for the audience, as once the band hit the song’s breakdown and faster tempo, the audience continued to dance for the remainder of the night.

“For us it’s always about making new sounds and kinda one-upping ourselves in terms of experimentation,” Wilder said, “and we’re really fortunate with Yeasayer. We pretty much just write a song, tell people that it’s Yeasayer, and that’s it. You either love it or you hate it. It’s not like somebody’s telling us (what to do). It’s pretty amazing to have that kind of artistic independence.”

Bassist Ira Wolf Tuton wielded a MIDI bass with a focused mastery. Standing almost stock-still, Tuton manipulated his instrument’s sound between tolling booms, weird whistling chirps and humming drones – sometimes all in the same song.

Yeasayer followed up with crowd-favorite “Henrietta,” the first of many hits from its previous albums that got the crowd harmonizing. “O.N.E.,” “2080” and “Madder Red” all got air time, working fans into a frenzy within the first couple of notes.

Wilder perched by a sampler of his own, manipulating the electronic sound all the while proving his dynamic skill at guitar, alternately providing a shimmery sonic texture or laying down a riff distorted to sound somewhat like an underwater effect.

“You’re always trying to figure out how you can make an interesting sound and usually the song goes from there,” Wilder said, “you come up with interesting melodies and then figure out what you want to write about. Usually I just write about myself, things that I’m going through, or people I’m angry at.”

The set list alternated singles from its earlier psychedelic pop albums and the bass-heavy, R&B-influenced dance tracks of “Fragrant World” – but nearly every song was tweaked, whether in performance and delivery or via heavy effects, to sound different from the studio albums.

“We’re always collaborating on the production side of things,” Wilder continued, “like: ‘oh, this song or this chord progression is a little boring, let’s try and change it up.’ Maybe we’ll keep the same words, but let’s make it a little weirder.”

During the show, Keating lurched energetically around stage, contorting to the rhythm while he split time between a microphone mounted on stage and his table of samplers. Between songs, Keating joked with the crowd about the elections, often yelling backstage for assistant, Nick, for updates. Keating told the crowd that while normally it’s “not cool to be on your phones, tonight I’ll understand.”

Halfway through, Tuton announced to the crowd that Elizabeth Warren had won the Senate race, and the crowd cheered. Closing with another fan favorite, “Ambling Alp,” Yeasayer decamped while the audience screamed themselves hoarse for an encore, chanting and stomping. One fan remarked that they’re probably checking election results before coming back out.

And right he was – when Yeasayer returned, Keating announced that Question 2 passed and the crowd erupted again. Yeasayer treated fans to an extended four song encore, with Wilder breaking out an electric thumb piano for the bridge of “Devil and the Deed.”

When asked about what’s next for Yeasayer, Wilder said, “I dunno! It’d be really exciting for us to do the score to a movie, but non-traditionally. I always liked the idea of an artist who is allowed to run wild with his emotional interpretation of what sounds would accompany a movie’s visuals. I think doing a movie soundtrack is awesome but it’s also kinda restrictive in, in the traditional sense.”

Closing with the almost bipolar drones of Folk Hero Shtick, Yeasayer left its fans smiling and satisfied, entertained and exhilarated, showing the band knows not only how to craft a brilliantly experimental studio album, but also how to deliver a visually and sonically stunning live performance.

Tom Barnes can be reached at tbarnes@student.umass.edu.

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