Urban legend holds that Led Zeppelin used 12 guitars to record "Stairway to Heaven." Inevitably, live versions of the song feel a wee bit lacking. It's impossible to replicate the studio feel onstage. Jimmy Page, for all his immense talent, can only thrash one axe at a time.
Odd Bones, Yeasayer's sophomore effort, plays as a lovely, layered, lushly orchestrated album. It's the product of countless hours spent working mixing boards until they emitted smoke. It is, inevitably, irreproducible live.
Yeasayer is also tired. The quintet played a show at Coachella the previous day and look drained from the sun. Chris Keating says he and his mates are genuinely happy to play the Fillmore, and we believe him, but their energy remains lost in the desert.
The set, front-loaded with mellow songs, starts slowly. The crowd wonders why they sound better on the album. There are moments when the momentum builds, but then it disappears. We grow restless.
Then "2080." Off of 2007 effort All Hour Cymbals, it's a simpler song, translating seamlessly from album to stage. It also happens to feature a perfect band/audience bonding moment: "Yeah, yeah. We can all grab at the chance to be handsome farmers!/Yeah you can have 21 sons and be blood when they marry my daughters." And we're off.
Keating, refreshed, asks "Are we ready to get serious?" before launching into "O.N.E."
"Because I like it when you lose control," he sings while the Fillmore's springboard floor turns into a trampoline under the stress of 1,000 dancing feet. "Ambling Alp" closes the set and Yeasayer disappears stage left.
They return for the encore. Keating grabs a digital camera a girl in the front row set on the stage. He improvs, "Leave the camera on the stage and it gets taken," while taking pictures of his band and the audience. "What do you think this is, your bookshelf?" he asks with a laugh before returning the Canon. He's having fun. So are we.
Don't give up on me, and I won't give up on you, k?
Listen :: Yeasayer - "Ambling Alp"
Listen :: Yeasayer - "O.N.E."