Jon Spencer, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Liars Turn Seattle Into Big Apple West

The former capital of grunge hosted New York's hipster vanguard Tuesday night.

SEATTLE — You could've called it the Big Apple West.

For a few hours Tuesday, Seattle was no longer the former capital of

grunge, but home to all things hot, as the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion —

rejuvenated vets of the Lower East Side — plus Yeah Yeah Yeahs and the

Liars — New York's hipster vanguard — set up shop at the Showbox.

Rock showman Spencer ripped open the headlining set with an overcaffeinated

"Bellbottoms," sucking the crowd in like a hot rod Hoover. Sporting a long

and greasy 'do, he looked like a skinny Henry Rollins circa 1984. Drummer

Russell Simins, meanwhile, was apropos for Sasquatch country with his 'fro

gone wild.

During the horror flick single "She Said," from this year's return-to-form Plastic Fang, Spencer clawed the air werewolf-style, as second guitarist Judah Bauer tossed out solos fit for a Memphis barbecue.

Like any Blues Explosion outing, this show played like variations on a

theme. Time and again the band laid down fatback beats, greasy solos and

lecherous, boastful vocals. Simins switched up timing here and there, Bauer

added spice to the solos, and Spencer veered from holler to growl — but

overall the night rolled like an 80-minute hip-shaking trance, as one song

slipped into the next.

Between tunes, Spencer served familiar banter:

"Thankyouverymuchladiesandgentlemen," "Right about now I'd like to...," and

the ever popular, "Throw your hands in the air! Throw your hands in the

air! Throw your hands in the air — and kiss my ass!"

When the fire was starting to die out, the Explosion threw on the gasoline

with "Mean Heart," also from Plastic Fang, with Bauer pulling out

riffs with less speed and more soul.

Earlier, the raw-rock trio Yeah Yeah Yeahs — who've garnered reams of

press with their five-cut self-titled debut EP — laid out a set that

included plenty of unreleased songs.

In the brutal come-on "Cold Light," singer Karen O sounded like she would

pummel a prospect into submission with lines like, "We could do it to each

other/ Like a sister and a brother." Decked out in a pink scarf and Billy

Idol glove, O saluted the audience and grabbed her crotch a la Michael

Jackson.

Though "Bang" is the band's best known song and one the year's most notable

kiss-offs ("As a f---, son, you suck"), the YYYs didn't use it to rally the

crowd, instead throwing it out with a take-it-or-leave approach.

That's not to say they didn't have fun. O smiled self-effacingly when,

after she had tossed water on the audience, someone returned the volley

with a handful of ice cubes.

Artful noise-mongers the Liars opened the night with a show as danceable as it

was dissonant. Clad head to foot in white like a demented Good Humor man,

singer Angus Andrew voiced tones into his mic as if he were a zoned-out jazz

sax man — minus the sax.

Throughout the set members abandoned their instruments. At one point, Pat

Nature traded his bass to play a series of easily programmable notes on an

effects box — all the while clutching the contraption and getting down

like he was vying for a spot on "American Bandstand."

For more sights and stories from concerts around the country, check out MTV News Tour Reports.