Yeasayer @ Pitchfork 2009
I attended Chicago’s Pitchfork Music Festival this year for the first time. I was only able to attend one of three days, Saturday, which had an attractive lineup including most notably (in order of appearance) Yeasayer, MF Doom, Beirut, and The National. After securing a good position in front of stage C after The Pains of Being Pure at Heart’s set, Yeasayer started setting up (what I knew of them came from listening to their first and only album, All Hour Cymbals , and their contribution to Dark Was the Night). The Brooklyn-based band, which describes its music as
Middle Eastern-psych-pop-snap-gospel, did all of their own sound checking, and extensively too. It was like getting an extra 30 minutes or so of play time from them.
With their first LP as my only reference to their music, I was surprised to see how electronically based their performance was. Performing with three permanent members of the band were two additional members who perform with them and are reported to appear on their upcoming album. Yeasayer opened with a song that I didn’t recognize and followed it up with material from All Hour Cymbals including their singles "Sunrise" and "2080," and "Tightrope" from Dark Was the Night. I was slow to recognize much of what they played since their performance was not a direct translation of their recorded music but in some cases a total reworking, often incorporating harsher, electronic sounds not present on their album. To my delight they performed all of their electronic beats on the spot with drum pads alongside (two) traditional drum sets.
They ended their set with a new song (the only one they announced as being new), which had a sound strangely similar to that of Animal Collective. All in all, the show was energetic and crowd-pleasing, thanks to the upbeat energy of their music and their stage presence, despite the sudden downpour which lasted the duration of their performance. I look forward to their new album to be released sometime this year.
Update (8/25/09): Pitchfork has posted a video of Yeasayer’s live performance of "Wait for the Summer" at the festival.