Friday, March 10, 2006

Clap Your Hands Say Meh

Last Wednesday capped a week of the most dramatic made-for-t.v. moments I have personally experienced in a long time, so I was glad to meet up with friends to go see the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Show at the 9:30 Club. Apparently everyone else in DC was apparently excited for the show as well, seeing as tickets sold out in twenty minutes and were then going for upwards of $100 on craigslist.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's eponymous first album did not make my list of the top 5 albums of 2005, but only because I hadn't heard the album. "Yellow Country Teeth" is easily the best pop song of 2005: lead vocalist Alec Ounsworth juxtaposes cramped, almost unintelligeable lyrics over layers of rolling bass and guitar to create a perfect sound of happy angst. It's pop perfection.

The coolest thing youshould know about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah: they give a shout-out to David Bowie in the song Over and Over Again, and David Bowie actually goes to their concerts.

Needless to say, I had high expectations for the show.

9:30 was packed with DC's coolest hipsters, which, in this town, means a lot of kids wearing Puma track jackets and snappy Urban Outfitters t-shirts. When I say crowded, I mean jam packed. Even the Black Eyed Peas didn't get a crowd this big. What's more, these were excited hipsters, a phenomenon you don't see every day. I even heard one guy sniff, "yeah, whatever, I'm psyched. This should be good. I might even dance." Hipsters? Dancing? When hipsters can let go of their jaded cynicism long enough to dance, you know there's some kind of special vibe. Or else the junior high kids are selling their Adderall again.

After waiting for ages, CYHSY finally came in and launched into their album's first track, Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away. Right away, something seemed off, and it wasn't the fact that onstage, Alec Ounsworth looks suspiciously like Balki Bartokomous. Most bands at 9:30 use the stage's video screen either to play videos, show off works from cool graphic designers or simply to add pictures to enhance the album- all very synesthesia. CYHSY chose a blank backdrop. I can't imagine why they did so, since the majority of the band members spent their set time staring at the back wall, completely oblivious to the crowd. When Ounsworth faced the microphone to sing, he looked down at his toes or up at the ceiling, as though maybe he had written the lyrics to the new songs there in case he forgot them.

The bass player was about the only musician attempting to connect with the crowd. Unfortunately, because the sound quality was so poorly produced, I couldn't even hear the bass. I don't think I was in a dead spot, as other people at the show had the same complaint. It created an eerie, ungrounded sound, losing all of the filmy layers that are the hallmark of CYHSY's sound.

However, the hipsters still danced, and yes, they clapped their hands. The band tested out a few songs from their forthcoming album, some of which sounds promising- as long as they stay in the studio, where they belong.


Blogger jason_uk said...

It's monday...
we need our fix from poofygoo..

9:17 AM  

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