It can now be said, without question, that Karen O. is the current queen of rock ‘n’ roll. The singer and her New York-based band, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, have garnered much attention with their explosive live act for the past year and a half. Their major-label debut, Fever to Tell, is 37 minutes of raging low-fi rock that never loses its sexy appeal.
The crowd at the 9:30 Club last Saturday night was more than ready for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The opening act was the Tallboys, a painfully typical garage quartet composed of three women and a dude on bass. Blessed with a spirited frontwoman whose commitment to penetrating the audience was almost manic, the band is unfortunately cursed with a poor sound mix and sloppy inexperience. After tolerating the Tallboys’ set, the expectant audience seemed to say, “OK, can we see Karen now?”
The Minions were ready for their queen and kings. Guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase took their positions. Finally appearing with a champagne glass in her hand and the audience in her pocket, Karen O. ascended the stairs, crawled onstage like a temptress Spider Man in torn fishnets and a Devo-like plastic hat, and took the mic.
Zinner began pounding out furious heavy-garage riffs while bookish-looking Chase effortlessly caressed his drum kit. Karen made love to her crowd as she danced like a post-punk schoolgirl. She pulled a woman from the front row onto the stage, saying, “I just felt like doing that. I have no fucking idea why.” She then used Heineken for mouthwash, spat it onto the stage, splashed the audience with water and recited lyrics such as “Boy, you’re just a stupid bitch / Girl, you’re just a no-good dick.”
Song such as “Black Tongue” seemed like the most beautiful poetry ever bestowed on human ears, and the crowd responded as any dominated lover would – with total submission.