If I had to describe the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' concert at Penn's Landing in just one word, it would be "sparkly." From the confetti that blew like a whirlwind off the stage, to Karen O's shiny Michael Jackson-esque leather studded jacket that I wanted to steal, to the way the moonlight rippled along the Delaware River, everything about Tuesday night's show sparkled.
There's a paraphrased Buddhist quote that goes: "Happiness should be like a candle. Share the flame with other candles, and all that happens is that the room becomes brighter." This quote certainly applies to Karen Orzolek, the front woman of the punk-rock band the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Except replace the word "flame" with "mic."
Towards the beginning of the set, Karen bent down to share her mic with four or five different people from the crowd. She engaged these audience members to participate in singing the chorus to one of the band's songs, and they were more than happy to oblige. One of these audience members happened to be a young guy who was tone-deaf. His off-key "whooo ooo ooo" caused a good-natured laugh to reverberate around the pier. What that poor chap lacked in vocal ability, he more than made up for in enthusiasm.
Shortly thereafter, before "Sacrilege" off of YYY's newest album Mosquito, the band experienced some technical difficulties. I had no idea they were experiencing technical difficulties until Karen told us they were. I just assumed Nick Zimmer's booming guitar riffs were part of the act, an electric build-up to the next song, not an attempt to cover up a very minor setback. But after Karen announced, "Sorry, we're having some technical difficulties" with a giggle, the audience cheered.
Why would an audience cheer at an announcement of technical difficulties?
Because it meant we got to have Karen O to ourselves, of course!
Karen has all the swagger of the punk-rock goddess that she is, but her confident and carefree 'tude is without ego. She's a total sweetheart. She connects with the audience in such a way that you feel like you're watching your good pal up on stage. A pal who's impossibly popular, so you hardly ever get to see her, but whenever you hear she's going to be at the same party as you, you get über-excited because she makes everything so much more fun.
The band played a few other Mosquito songs, including "Despair." While Karen was singing about "my wasted years," I couldn't help but think how many years I didn't waste being a fan of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The show at Festival Pier was a perfect culmination of all my years of fandom.
Speaking of years, it's been four since YYY last played Philly, and I can only hope it won't be this long before they come back. Nobody from the audience wanted to let the band go. We demanded an encore.
We were first treated to "Maps." As Karen sung, "They don't love you like I love you," she might as well have been singing from her fans' perspective. Each and every one of us was in love with her.
The final song was "Date with the Night." This was only fitting because the rush you get after seeing incredible live music is the same exact rush yet get after a fantastic first date. As the night comes to a close, you feel like you're floating. You're left with butterflies in your stomach, a smile on your face, and a soul that sparkles.