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May 7, 2010

Concert review: Yeasayer at The Ottobar

Midnight Sun correspondent Andy Rosen saw Yeasayer's sold-out show at The Ottobar last night. Here is his review:

The first sound out of Yeasayser was a strange, slow synthesizer loop, as the five-piece, eerie indie outfit took the stage at Ottobar Thursday. A faster, spooky guitar line piled on top quickly, at first falling in and out of sync with the keyboard.

The tracks converged for good when the drums dropped in. The sold-out crowd was excited, at least judging from the intensity of the cheers. Still, everybody was just staring, transfixed as the Brooklyn band with Baltimore roots got into "The Children," the first track off this year's release, "Odd Blood." ...

It was a strange crowd, too. It wouldn't be The Ottobar without the regular skinny jeans and flannel set, but there were some serious yuppies there, too, and a significant Baby Boomer contingent. A middle-aged man in a Charles Village Baseball T-shirt stood almost entirely still for the whole show, while twenty-somethings in weird hats began to dance circle in front of the stage.

The band was tight, played complex, mostly rhythmic tunes and was mixed well. People were into it. Still, it felt like Yeasayer was just a set list tweak or two away from totally blowing the place away in what amounted to a homecoming show.

Lead singer Chris Keating and guitarist Anand Wilder met at the Park School, and they clearly still have a lot of friends here. Keating had fun, mixing a percussive synthesizer track and stepping back at times to pound a crash cymbal with his fist.

But it was perhaps most apparent the last song of the night that Yeasayer could have done more. The crowd was going nuts after the fist song following the band's brief departure. They came back with  "Strange Reunions." That song features, an intense, Eastern-influenced guitar line, a Soft Cell-style vocal line from Wilder and a heavy downbeat that had almost everybody jumping.
Then they finished, just before midnight, with "Sunrise," a spooky, spacey track that really didn't fit the exultant mood of the crowd.

We left feeling a little let down. That's not to say the show wasn't good. It was great fun. Yeasayer has a really special sound, mixing a big new wave influence with very strong vocal harmonies that sound like they come out of some twisted doo-wop track.

But it's hard not to feel like the band missed an opportunity to really make it sublime. Maybe it was the set list, maybe it was the strange crowd and maybe it was just the band's spooky sound. There was just something odd about the mix.

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Posted by Sam Sessa at 10:13 AM | | Comments (5)
Categories: Concert reviews


I had a weird hat on, but just next to the dance circle. Not sure if I'm happy to be associated with them.

Definitely felt the weirdness you are talking about. Everyone would cheer really loud but then just stand and seem disinterested. I was really impressed with the show, and this may be the year of Yeasayer for me. Some of the new tracks are kind of duds in the live setting, and I think it would be beneficial to make sthem into longer, jammier, dancier, improvisational songs.

I think the yuppies really brought the energy down, I was dancing next to three immovable blocks of Tall White Jock.
I swear they didn't sway an inch during the entire show despite ingesting at least 3 beers each. You'd think they would have loosened up a little! Really brought me down when I was trying to actually move.

Maybe couldn't move because it is impossible to do so at a sold out Ottobar show. I got there late, and was stuck at the top of the steps by the soundboard. I was very impressed with how the their songs translated into the live setting, esp the vocals. They are still a very young band (with only two albums), so I feel as their catalog of songs grow, they will be able to construct a more strong, cohesive set.

Thanks for the great review of who was present in the crowd! Seriously? Sunrise was a highlight. I thought the band killed the entire set. :)

This has to be the worst show review ever. Concerned abou the people in the crowd? As far as I could tell everyone was polite and into the show.

The baby boomers? Those were the yeasayer dudes parents. Did you even listen to what he sadi about his dad being there?

The crowd was 100 times better than the idios at the Dan Deacon show a couple months back.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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