Reviews > Shows
Yeasayer at Rumsey Playfield
Photo by Anna Palma
Central Park Rumsey Playfield
New York, NY
Although Yeasayer recently released another brainchild out into the world in the form of their new album Fragrant Flowers on August 20th, it’s guitarist/vocalist Anand Wilder who’s the actual father. A new baby of his was born the previous Saturday, and the band joked between the teasingly powerful “2080” and poppy remixed “O.N.E.” that they were cutting their North American and European tour short to all raise the baby together back on their home turf of Brooklyn, NY. But as an impromptu last concert, Yeasayer at Central Park’s Rumsey Playfield was a satisfying conclusion.
Joined by touring percussionist Cale Parks, the band began to play just as the sky fully went dark and a huge crystalline mirror sculpture, conceptualized by software artist Casey Reas to use light reflection and refraction while projecting Yoshi Sodeoka’s music videos and distortions of the band playing, could be appreciated fully by the now large, mixed, and excited crowd. Show opener “Blue Paper,” a digitally whispered, droning lullaby, was an easy transition from the guttural female voice chanting “NEW YORK CITY” during the band’s vampy arrival onstage. To match the range of genres in the set, Wilder and vocalist Chris Keating took turns at lead vocals with Ira Wolf Tuton chiming in on some triage harmonies throughout the night. Captivating and trippy digital synths created a David Bowie-inspired emotional urgency in “Henrietta,” a dubbed out scifi fan favorite with a pointedly ironic comparison of love and the detachment of modern technology, and maximized the song’s dips from fast to slow, catchy to earnest. The crowd grew more confident in chanting along the lyrics through into “Madder Red,” its appealingly electronic Ratatat-y sound complimenting the fountains of green lights and neatly foiled Zappa-inspired guitar riffs.
After congratulating both the new birth again and an anniversary to a warm audience, the lyrics turned to the darker “Wait For the Summer,” which Keating laughingly warned as being a contemplation on girlfriend-cide. “Ambling Alp,” another crowd favorite and ending with upbeat energy, closed the official set before the band trooped back to a spirited applause for a self conscious encore. “Fingers Never Bleed” felt like an appropriate hybrid of psychedelic rap to begin a pleasant four-song interlude to the new “Devil and the Deed” and throwback “Tightrope” until the final mercurial “Folk Hero Schtick” performed with some added guitar improvisation and crescendoing existential screech.
While the group is known for their omniscient use of genre sources, Yeasayer stayed faithful in interpretation of their performance and gave a clear presentation of their latest album with a few fan favorites thrown in for good measure. With a relaxed crowd and an indefinite tour hiatus ahead, it seems as though whatever the band chooses to do next will be greeted with open arms.
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