LCD SOUNDSYSTEM + YEAH YEAH YEAHS + YOUNG FATHERS @ THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL
“Love is all over this house tonight!” Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer Karen O noted during her set at the Hollywood Bowl on May 5. It was the second of two sold-out shows at the historic venue, during which Yeah Yeah Yeahs co-headlined with LCD Soundsystem, and the excitement and anticipation among the crowd was palpable. The long queues at the wine and beer stands were just one indication that people were ready to have a good time.
The evening began with Scotland’s Young Fathers, who are on tour in support of their critically acclaimed third album, Cocoa Sugar. Despite the early start time—their set began at 6:50 p.m.—those who were able to get to the venue early danced along to the propulsive beats of such Cocoa Sugar standouts as “In My View” and “Toy.” Kayus Bankole was a particularly mesmerizing presence onstage, displaying impressive dance moves throughout their short set. The 2014 Mercury Prize winners were a recent add to the already stellar lineup, and LCD’s James Murphy thanked them during his performance, describing them as “fucking very special.” It seemed many in attendance knew this as well: A worker at the merchandise tent commented that people had been asking for Young Fathers albums and T-shirts all night. (There weren’t any.)
When Yeah Yeah Yeahs arrived on stage, the sun was beginning its descent. “It’s a beautiful night,” Karen O noted reflectively. “Like the first night of summer. Just for you and us at the Hollywood Bowl.” It was a perfect transition to the explosive night party that was about to begin.
“I thought last night was the night … but I think tonight is the night!” Karen O proclaimed to the wholly engaged audience. She then added, “I just want to say it’s a dream for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs to play the Hollywood Bowl. I don’t have to tell you why. And it was totally worth the fucking 18 years it took to get here.”
The band, nearly two decades into their career, traversed through the many hits of their catalog, from the classic “Pin”—during which Karen O put the mic in her mouth as though eating it, her signature move—to the more recent “Sacrilege,” which had a religious feel as fans raised their arms to the air during the chorus and the repeating refrain “I plead and I pray.”
To add to the electrifying atmosphere, confetti was streamed into the crowd several times during the set, blanketing the audience as far back as the middle section of the Bowl. Two large eye beach balls also were bounced along in the pit, giving the concert a festival-like vibe. And the large videos screens rapidly flashed visuals of the band, mimicking the kinetic energy onstage. Yeah Yeah Yeahs frequently encouraged audience involvement, from handclaps (“Lemme see some hands,” Karen O screamed) to sing-alongs (Karen O walked along the pit section to have fans sing harmonies during “Cheated Hearts”).
During the introduction to “Maps,” Karen O declared, “I’d like to dedicate this song to someone you love more than life itself! I’d like to dedicate this song to someone you loved and you lost! And I’d like to dedicate this song to all the lovers at the Hollywood Bowl tonight!” The last line was met with an eruption of cheers. By the end of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ set, it would seem that this would be a perfectly satisfying conclusion to the night, but there was still LCD Soundsystem to look forward to, and fans displayed no diminishment of enthusiasm.
When LCD’s James Murphy came onstage, he noted with amazement, “It’s packed!” And it was, with many visibly ready for the dance party to begin. (Several people in the crowd exclaimed, “I’m ready to dance!”) He then marveled, “It’s our fourth time here at the Bowl. We have a very nice relationship with this place.” After a pause, he clarified, “Not with you individually because I don’t know you personally … But it’s a good place and you’re part of the place. That’s too much information, right? … I went into too much detail. I ruined it. Again.” As the band began to perform the opening of “You Wanted a Hit,” he sighed, “Quit while you’re ahead.”
Like Karen O before him, he felt that tonight would be the better of the two. “We have high hopes for tonight. Last night was really fun. Don’t get me wrong. If you were here last night, it was a good show. But this is the show that sold out first.” The band wasted no time getting started, beginning with 2007 hit “Get Innocuous” and later the infectious beats of “Tribulations.”
Highlights of the set included “Movement,” during which the crowd became just as raucous as during a straight-ahead rock concert—hands flaying, heads banging. Even though YYYs and LCD are not considered the same genre of music, the song’s intensity elicited the same reaction as YYYs’ “Black Tongue.” Of his co-headliner, Murphy said, “We’re very happy to play with the Yeah Yeah Yeahs for the first time in our 18 years of cohabitation.” He then added, “And the best frontman or woman of our era is Karen O,” which was greeted with loud applause.
LCD Soundsystem was apparent in their enjoyment of the night—“We could do this all week!” Murphy remarked. At one point, Murphy raised his fists in triumph next to a smiling Nancy Whang. The set mostly matched that of the previous night, including the American Dream track “How Do You Sleep?”—which had made its live debut at the May 4 show. However, tonight’s audience was treated to “Oh Baby,” during which some in the crowd slow-danced to.
Due to the strict 11 p.m. curfew, Murphy kept dialogue to a minimum toward the end of the night. He observed, “Looks like we can do all three of the last songs,” before turning to the band and exclaiming, “We have to hurry hurry hurry!” Those last three songs—“Emotional Haircut,” “Dance Yrself Clean,” and “All My Friends”—had fans dancing in the aisles and jumping along their seats with passionate energy.
By the end of the night, Murphy explained, “After two years and two weeks, this is our last show in the U.S. for a little bit, while we go and do some other stuff.” The news was met with audible disappointment, to which he joked that they had to “do the other job that bands do: Sit at home and hate themselves.” He concluded the evening with a succinct and sincere “thank you for being a part of it.”