YEAH YEAH YEAHS with Death From Above at the Opera House, August 29. Tickets: $16. Attendance: 350. Rating: NN Rating: NN
The less than enthusiastic re-sponse to the blissfully brutal bashing of local thug rock duo Death from Above indicated that New York City hot stuff Yeah Yeah Yeahs might have a rough time winning over the bored-looking Opera House assembly. But judging by the thrilled squeals of delight at the appearance of Yeahs femme fatale Karen O (or Karen Orzolek, as she's known at home in affluent Bergen County, New Jersey), most people were saving their cheers of delight for the headliners. As I looked around the packed venue, the partisan response began to make sense. I hadn't seen that much inappropriately worn stripey polyester since Juventus lost the Italian league soccer championship to AS Roma. And don't get me started on the wrist warmers.
So what's all the fuss about? Well, looks count for a lot, and I'll concede that Karen O really does have fabulous rock star hair, which managed to retain its shape no matter how much she shook it or mussed it up with a towel.
Also, her carefully considered choreography made good use of her gangly limbs - from windmills to karate kicks - and kept her the animated centre of attention when nothing much was happening with pouty guitarist Nick Zinner and dull drummer Brian Chase . And that accounted for most of their low-energy hour-long set.
The crowd was so amped that any suggestion of an uptempo groove got heads nodding and bodies jerking, but the songs went nowhere fast, fading before anyone could get up to pogo speed. And although Karen O tried to scream up some excitement, her attempts at rage came off like a flustered Donald Duck.
A quick costume change into a clinging pink number with a sparkly guitar motif actually drew more cheers than their lackluster encore. Maybe they should stick with videos instead.