I just got back from the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah concert at the 8 x 10 Club in the Federal Hill area of Baltimore. It was a fucking fantastic show.
I met up with my friend Dan K in Federal Hill, and we took down a few beers at a bar next door to the Funk Box before going inside. The 8 x 10 is actually quite small for a venue, despite having a railing/upstairs floor above the stage. I would guess that it only holds about 200 people, and it was filled to capacity.
We checked out the set from upstairs, and Clap Your Hands Say Yeah delivered a fine performance. We had only heard a few of their songs on the internet in the form of MP3's, all of which were played. Those songs included "Over and Over Again," "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood," and "In This Home on Ice." Also highlighting the show were "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" and the evening's best song, the unreleased "Satan Said Dance."
For those unfamiliar with Clap Your Hands' sound, they're a guitar and keyboard driven band with 5 members. A lot of their songs sound like a great mix of the Velvet Underground, some early R.E.M., hints of New Order, and the Talking Heads. Their lead singer, Alec Ounsworth, really sounds like a young David Byrne, as he works in some Byrne-esque vocal inflections to sing sometimes mumbled and scattered lyrics.
The band consists of Ounsworth, Lee Sargent, Robbie Guertin, Tyler Sargent, and Sean Greenhalgh, with their live setup of drums, bass, guitar, and two keyboards. Some songs would feature both keyboards playing at the same time, but most of the songs would find the same two members taking turns playing an additional guitar while the other played the keys (Ounsworth plays guitar and sings on all songs).
The band glided through their main set, playing about 8 songs and delighting the enthusiastic audience. After thundering applause, CYHSY came back out for two more encores, with a solid 2-song first encore. The second curtain call was somewhat unexpected, and I was surprised to distinctly recognize the first few chords. Then came the familiar lyrics, "there is a town in north Ontario / with dream comfort memory to spare," and Dan and I realized that they were busting out a cover of Neil Young's "Helpless," a great tune featured on the Band's Last Waltz. It was a great way to end the night, watching one of the hottest independent bands in the country close out in style.