Summer concert season has arrived in Chicago and Huntington Bank Pavilion at Northerly Island kicked things off by hosting the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on Thursday, June 1. With the breeze rolling in from Lake Michigan and the skyline in the background, the venue served as the perfect setting for Karen O (vocals), Nick Zinner (guitar, synth) and Brian Chase (drums) – joined by touring multi-instrumentalist Imaad Wasif – to share new music from their latest album, Cool It Down, and much more.
“We’re not gonna party like it’s Friday night. We’re not gonna party like it’s Saturday night. We’re gonna fucking party like it’s Thursday night – ‘Cause that’s the night Yeah Yeah Yeahs are in Chicago,” Karen said early in the performance.
It was easy for the crowd to heed her party call as dancing was inescapable during songs like “Cheated Hearts” and “Shame and Fortune,” which Karen referred to as an It’s Blitz! deep cut. The new material seamlessly integrated with classic YYY’s fare adding fresh excitement and complimenting all the hits.
With it’s patient build and epic feel, “Spitting Off the Edge of the World” opened the set perfectly. Later, “Wolf” allowed Karen to prowl the stage while Chase’s pattering rhythms – made with electronic and analog drums – set an ominous scene. Zinner accented the menace with sparse, purposeful keys that provided a perpendicular melody.
After an extended intro during which Zinner snapped a few pics of the crowd, Karen stopped “Zero” to explain that her voice wasn’t tip-top because she recently recovered from “the plague.”
“If my voice cracks a little bit it’s because I was in bed two days ago and here I am on stage, baby – ’cause I didn’t want to miss out on this shit, baby,” she said to rising cheers. “So, if you love me, just let me know you love me.”
Cheers rose from the crowd, and yes, some notes wavered, but perfection wasn’t what fans were looking for. They wanted to experience a special moment in time with one of the best bands in the business. The rawness of Karen’s still recovering vocals made for an especially vulnerable rendition of “Lovebomb” during which she sang softly of fleeting time and rays of light.
Before closing out the pre-encore set with “Turn Into,” “Gold Lion,” and “Heads Will Roll,” the band shared their Yeah Yeah Yeahs love song, “Maps,” complete with a collection of special dedications. Sasami – who was on hand as support for the show – received a shout-out as did all the “lovers in Chicago.” As the evening marked the first day of Pride Month, Karen honored the occasion with an extra dose of love for the LGBTQ community.
“I love love, man. I’m a fucking lover. I’m a lover,” she said. “And I want to say love is love but let’s fucking be clear here – Let’s be clear. Queer love is fucking love, okay. And I’d like to dedicate this song to the first day of Pride Month, baby. Fucking Yeah Yeah Yeahs love the LGBTQ community. We fucking love you.”
Witness all the Yeah Yeah Yeahs love for yourself by checking out the photos below and click here to pick-up tickets to see the New York trio live in a city near you. More information about upcoming shows at Northerly Island can be found at LiveNation.com.
(Photos by Laurie Fanelli)