[LIVE REVIEW] Clap Your Hands Say Yeah @ The Independent
Album reissues are a big thing right now, and that has not been lost on front man, bandleader, and sole surviving member of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s original lineup, Alec Ounsworth. In September of 2005 the band self-released their debut, self-titled album to critical acclaim. 10 years later they are now touring in support of the album’s reissue, playing all 12 tracks from start to finish.
Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a special group for me in the sense that they were one of the first bands I began listening to during my infant stages of musical discovery. Upon first listen, I actually detested this album. On the first few runs through the record I just could not get over Ounsworth’s nasally delivery. But as I continued to listen through repeated insistence from friends (and okay, “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” is just impossible to not like) it was an album that grew on me more than any record I’ve ever had early trepidations for.
By the time Ounsworth had begun to reach for the megaphone to deliver the opening lines to “Clap Your Hands”, the crowd was ready to do nothing but. Seeing an album played out in sequence live is a truly awesome sight to behold. The excitement behind not knowing what song is coming next would seem preferable, but being able to anticipate exactly what great song is about to follow the one you’re currently listening to was surprisingly just as thrilling. Even the shorter instrumental tracks were well received, with Alec getting down on his knees to play a teeny, tiny piano for “Sunshine and Clouds” as well as the melancholy yet stunningly gorgeous “Blue Turning Grey.”
While Ounsworth is the only remaining original member and primary songwriter, watching the performances by the other band members was one of the biggest highlights of the show. They each had huge smiles painted across their face and brought incredible energy to some of the record’s heavier trackers such as “Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away” and aptly named “Heavy Metal.” I would never call “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” a dance floor banger, but that’s honestly the best way to describe the crowd’s reaction to the song that night. You could tell the other band members knew how lucky they were to have the opportunity to play alongside a musician as gifted as Ounsworth.
By the time the band kicked in to album album closer “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood,” I realized something strange. It had been maybe seven or eight years since I had really listened to any of these songs. CYHSY is a group that got lost in the noise of other bands and new genres, as my taste in music evolved throughout high school and college. What I was beginning to realize was how strongly this album in particular impacted me when it was released. After such a long hiatus of giving this band any attention, I was singing along as though I was seeing them for the first time back at The Warfield in ’06. Even the two friends I was with were present for both concerts. It’s been almost 10 years since that first show. And some things, like friends and records, never change.