Last Night: Yeah Yeah Yeahs at the Fox Theater, Pomona

Last Night: Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Yacht at the Fox Theater, Pomona; September 15, 2009.

Better Than: Your third-straight in-tribute viewing of Road House.

Karen O Fashion Report: Pretty conservative: a white dress with primary color patterns, and a matching shawl that she came out wearing like a cape.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O seems to be strikingly earnest when it comes to her emotions. She looked like she's crying in the “Maps” video; and by contrast, she looked so genuinely happy jumping up and down during “Zero” Tuesday night at a sold-out Fox Theater in Pomona, that it was hard not to be happy watching her.

In concert, Karen O lets her songs do the talking. Last night, she barely chatted with the audience other than a few thank yous and a dedication before “Maps.” So nothing's taken away from the expressiveness of her performance, where each number is filled with the kind of immediacy that you'd hope for from the band's recorded material.

Standing in front of a relatively elaborate backdrop that featured a
rotating orb that alternated between “eyeball” and “moon” modes, the band provided an 80-minute set that pulled heavily from their third studio album, this spring's It's Blitz!, but also touched on everything from their 2001 self-titled debut EP that caught the Strokes-fueled first wave of early-decade indie buzz (“Miles Away”), slightly deeper tracks (aka, songs other than “Maps”) from first full-length Fever to Tell (“Black Tongue”) and the two big hits from 2006's Show Your Bones (“Cheated Hearts,” “Gold Lion”).

There was good reason for Karen O to look so happy during “Zero”–it's one of the best singles of the year, and didn't disappoint live, inviting the listener to truly “shake it like a ladder to the sun,” whatever that might actually entail. The encore highlight was their still-ubiquitous hit “Maps,” which got slowed down to a barely there acoustic affair.

Karen O's energy stands in contrast to her reserved bandmates, guitarist Nick Zinner and drummer Brian Chase. For this tour, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are joined by Long Beach's Jessica Dobson (of Deep Sea Diver) on bass and keys. Dobson fit seamlessly with the band, which ultimately meant blending into the shadows while O did her thing.

Yacht, the musical project of artist Jona Bechtolt, opened the show.

Critic's Notebook:

Personal Bias: Have to stick up for Karen O, being a half-Asian myself. Not a lot of half-Asians in the music biz.

Random Detail: Fitting with the line “get your leather, leather, leather on,” Karen O put on a bejeweled leather jacket during “Zero,” exactly the kind of literal interpretation of song lyrics you don't see often enough these days.

By the Way: The Yeah Yeah Yeahs play tomorrow at the Greek Theatre in LA. That's sold out, too. So many Ys.

Yeah Yeah Yeahs set list:
“Shake It”
“Heads Will Roll”
“Black Tongue”
“Dull Life”
“Shame and Fortune”
“Miles Away”
“Soft Shock”
“Cheated Hearts”
“Date with the Night”

“Y Control”

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