Live Review: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah + Waters at The Varsity Theater
The Clap Your Hands Say Yeah show at The Varsity Theater Thursday night was all smiles, good times and nostalgia as the band (and fans) celebrated their return to the Twin Cities, the release of their comeback album, Hysterical, and lead singer Alec Ounsworth’s birthday. Save for Ounsworth solo shows, and side-projects from various members, this was the first time CYHSY has played the Cities for a few years, and there was no shortage of excitement from the crowd who was eager to see the band who’s been on a mutual break since early 2009 to pursue other outlets.
Opening the show was Milwaukee’s Sat. Nite Duets, a five-piece band that plays tongue-in-cheek, sing/talk alternative tunes who take bits and ques from 90s bands like Pavement and The Dismemberment Plan. I had heard about and seen a few videos from these guys through friends and I didn’t quite know what to expect from their live show. (See: video for “All Nite Long”) But it only took one song to get the room buzzing from their chopped up, blasted energy. Over the course of the set, four out of the five members took turns rotating instruments and lead vocals duties, making it a very exciting and varied set. I definitely recommend catching these guys when they come through the Cities as they probably come through fairly often.
Next up were San Francisco band Waters, the new project from ex-Port O’Brien frontman Van Pierszalowki. The band played their brand of rock-solid, run-of-the-mill indie rock, running through tracks off their recent John Conleton-produced debut album, Out in the Light. Pierszalowki and crew seared through their set with big guitar riffs and even big vocals hooks from the high-pitched Pierszalowki, letting their previous on-stage experience shine through. They played a loud set, but were outmatched by Sat. Nite Duets’ youthful energy.
After Thursday night’s performance, it’s abundantly clear the like their fans, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah know what has worked and what hasn’t in their career as a band. Their 2005 masterpiece (at least to me) is head and shoulders above anything the band has put out. Only in rare glimpses on aforementioned efforts has the band been able to capture the same kind of quirky energy that was delivered on their self-titled debut album. They know this and we know this. Luckily for us, they don’t mind to cater to that fact. What fans were greeted with at The Varsity was an almost full front-to-back revisiting of that album, while only touching on Hysterical and the still-curious Some Loud Thunder briefly – and I don’t think anyone was complaining. After kicking off with “Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away” they broke into their new single “Same Mistake” and quickly reverted back to CYHSY, playing favorites like “In This Home On Ice,” “Details of War,” “Over and Over,” “Skin of My Yellow County Teeth” and closed out the set with the radiant “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood.” Since being introduced to CYHSY during my freshman year in 2006, I’ve always wanted to see those songs performed by the Brooklyn band. I don’t want to completely discredit the band’s other albums, but they really haven’t captured the majesty of the first release elsewhere, so I, along with the most the crowd, were more than happy to hear our old favorites from a band we’ve loved for years.