Yeasayer ended its month-long North American tour with Saturday’s sold-out show in its native city. Though the scene in Hell’s Kitchen was quite different than Yeasayer’s Brooklyn digs, and the stage was set as an extraterrestrial party desert, the band was clearly happy to be home. “It’s my favorite city in the world,” frontman Chris Keating offered several times throughout the evening.
Surrounded by an alien landscape of cacti, animal skins and a pixelated light display, Yeasayer took to the stage. “Madder Red” came first, initiating the crowd with rich submerged reverb and a sonorant otherworldly pop chorus.
The eccentric songsters paired the new with the old. Fresh song, “Henrietta,” with a stalwart bassline and sci-fi outro, was third in the set and was followed by crowd favorite “O.N.E.” Wild strobes during the electro breakdown pierced through the artificial desert haze.
Yeasayer seemed hyper-focused on putting forth a perfected sound, tweaking knobs and adjusting pedals to get the instrumentals spot on, rarely breaking concentration. Then, towards the end of the set, the synth conked out. For a band so focused on the details, it was truly lost for a second. Keating finally came to terms with it: “Well at least now I have a place to put my drink. Accepting the loss, it launched into the eccentric folky “Wait for the Summer” off 2007’s Odd Hour Cymbals.
After a mock exit, Yeasayer returned to play a brief encore, throwing another new song at the eager crowd. When the set ended with “Sunrise,” it didn’t feel over.
Despite Keating’s slight frustration (“Seriously, more shit went wrong than it ever has… ever”), the flaws in the performance added character. The broken synth brought the band down from its larger than life, intricately produced brand of bizarreness. In that moment, Yeasayer was playing an intimate show—not headlining a sold-out, three-tiered venue.