GULF SHORES, Alabama — About halfway through the Yeah Yeah Yeahs‘ Hangout Music Festival set, frontwoman Karen O took a moment to make a special announcement before playing the band’s 2004 breakout single “Maps.” “This is dedicated to Stevie Wonder,” she called out to the thousands of fans who showed up to catch the Yeah’s set. The iconic R&B star was slated to follow the Yeah Yeah Yeahs on the Hangout Stage as the weekend’s headliner.
But Karen’s tender moments ended there. For the duration of the band’s set, she was her usual brash-n-flash self. Decked out in a green sequin blazer and short combo, she carried the crowd through the band’s back catalog as well as a host of songs from the band’s newest album, Mosquito, occasionally pausing to give shout outs to the “ganja smokers” and lending her mic to the crowd for some vocal duties.Songs like the fiery “Heads Will Roll” and the head-pounding “Phenomena” were hard-rocking reminders of where the band was 10 years ago, when they broke out of the downtown New York City art-rock scene.
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But their new numbers cast the band into more of an electro-meets-new wave vibe. “Sacrilege” and “Mosquito” contained more tribal elements, mixing pounding rhythms from drummer Brian Chase as well as some sampled elements. It’s not that surprising, considering they tapped LCD Soundsystem mastermind James Murphy and TV on the Radio’s Dave Sitek for Mosquito production duties — and the band translates those newfound sounds well in a festival setting.
Along with playing Hangout Music Fest, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have a host of other festival gigs lined up for the summer, including Firefly Festival in Delaware, Milwaukee’s Summerfest and the Outside Lands Festival in San Francisco.