Photos by: Anna Gazdowicz
Yeasayer, in confederacy with KIN (Microsoft’s newly-released smartphone), played a secret show on Saturday night, a show that was promoted via social media sites like Facebook and Twitter. The event’s location was revealed about three hours before the show and by the time I arrived at Longshoreman’s Hall* at seven (on Fisherman’s Wharf), there was already a line around the building. Microsoft funded the event, providing free entry and drinks, which was a great deal for fans.
The band played a solid, hour-long set of earlier hits (such as “Tightrope” and “2080”), and songs from their 2010 release, Odd Blood. With sheet metal drums and ribcage-rattling bass, their set was tailor-made for dancing and the crowd happily complied. However, the newer, dance-friendly material lacked some of the soulfulness and rawness of their earlier work.
What Yeasayer is doing increasingly well is combining discrete genre elements: the outlaw guitars of a high noon shoot-out, full sail harmonies akin to The Carter Family, synth pop hooks and readymade choruses (“stick up for yourself son/nevermind what anyone else done”). They also actively engaged with the crowd between songs, warming up as the evening progressed. Singer Chris Keating’s off-kilter humor punctuated the set, sometimes faltering and sometimes hitting the mark; he introduced the last song by saying, “Thank you for coming out. Support your local union.”
The promotion of the event through social media was both fun, in the scavenger hunt way, and practical. I would be interested to see a similar show based on the elements of mystery and creating buzz through social media while also using local bands, culture and language. San Francisco is, after all, a city of great music and great technology.
*Side note: I asked an older Union member working the show if he could explain the term ‘longshoreman.’ He told me that, back in the day, boats were often unable to get close enough to the shore to unload their cargo. So longshoreman would literally swim out, retrieve the cargo and swim it back (he used the example of wine barrels). Pretty freaking crazy. I told him I definitely would not do that job and he patted me on the shoulder and laughingly told me, “Me neither, honey, me neither.” Now they do a variety of different things regarding cargo-to-shore transport that don’t necessitate swimming.