On The List :: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah @ Bowery Ballroom [9.20.11]

This review runs in full and in color on the Bowery Presents House List blog.

It’s one thing to have been away, but it’s quite another to have been away long enough that your fans feared you might never return. And by early 2009, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah seemed destined for the latter scenario. The combination of a lukewarm second album, a lead singer with a solo record on the way and the use of increasingly creative synonyms for the word hiatus, left most of the group’s fans waxing poetic about the 2005 tour and all the promise and energy of those (relatively speaking) halcyon days. By 2011, almost four years removed from their last record, Some Loud Thunder, and seemingly a generation away from their 2005 seminal self-titled debut, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah took the stage at The Bowery Ballroom in just this sort of resurrection.

Like with most pseudo-religious experiences, these fans were here to see the prestige, some tricky reveal: youthful exuberance from the jaws of near destruction but also, if they were honest, they turned out to reverse history a little. Not only did these 600 people want to see CYHSY come back to life, they wanted it to feel like 2005 again. So with winking appropriateness, the band opened with “Sunshine and Clouds and Everything Proud,” the anomalous intro to their debut album. Quickly turning to their latest single, “Same Mistake,” a high-hat-rife synthesizer paradise, the band slammed their way between that group people wanted back and those songs they wrote seven years ago. Alternating between older material, “Over and Over Again (Lost and Found),” “In This Home on Ice,” and newer cuts “Hysterical,” the haunting “Misspent Youth” and the frantic “Maniac,” the band continued to split this difference with aplomb.

The distance from their early career—the group with that amazing line about David Bowie but sounded like David Byrne—coupled with their near death as a band managed to feel like nothing at all. In the end, pleasantly lethargic frontman Alec Ounsworth, head bobbling with casual emphasis on his consonants, ripped through “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood” and “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth.” It was a little slice of salvation and we could all be young again.

Same Mistake by CYHSYband

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