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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah live!

| April 5, 2006 | 0 Comments

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah
Metro, Chicago
Monday, April 3, 2006

To say it has been a busy year for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah would be quite the understatement. An Internet phenomenon and a word-of-mouth success story, the Brooklyn quintet’s self-titled, self-released debut (unleashed in 2005) has not so quietly sold in the neighborhood of 100,000 copies without the aid of radio or MTV. It also lodged itself in the Top 10 of countless year end best-of lists.

And while the hype surrounding the band has cooled a bit, it didn’t stop Monday’s show at Metro from becoming an immediate sell-out when tickets went on sale a few months back.

Save for a few new songs, the majority of the evening’s set stuck to material from the debut, which updates Talking Heads with twitchy rhythms and thick, cha-ching-a-ching-a-ching guitar runs. And not unlike David Byrne, CYHSY vocalist Alec Ounsworth has a voice that is an acquired taste. It was also apparent that excessive touring has taken its toll on his already circumspect instrument.

It forever sounds on the verge of cracking (which it often did). But when his warbled delivery threatened to derail songs like “Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away” and “In This Home On Ice,” his band were there to rescue him. Thundering away like Grad student speed freaks, Ounsworth and his multi-instrumentalist bandmates rendered some songs almost unrecognizable.

Recorded under modest conditions, the material has since been treated to a steady diet of tour steroids. “The Skin Of My Yellow Teeth” pushed and pulled as if trying out for life in a hockey arena and “Heavy Metal” nicely appropriated its namesake with a swell of guitars that fought dutifully with Sean Greenhalgh’s concussive drumming.

Where the band did falter was on a personal level. Little or no acknowledgement of the crowd left things feeling a bit cold and distant at times. And just when it seemed like the boys were ready to take the momentum over the top (the aforementioned “Yellow Teeth”), they’d shift pacing to a slower number (“Details Of The War”) and snuff out the embers. Growing pains for sure, but unlike most of us, Clap Your Hands have had to endure their musical puberty under a blinding spotlight and the high-powered, always critical, more-indie-than-thou microscope.

Curt Baran

Category: Live Reviews, Weekly

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