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Jeff Moehlis: Getting Hysterical with Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Band lives up to early hype in superb show at SOhO

The band Clap Your Hands Say Yeah was one of the first bands to achieve success through Internet-driven hype rather than music industry muscle, a somewhat novel concept when they self-released their first album way back in 2005.

And here’s another somewhat novel concept: At least in the current climate where such Internet-driven hype has become all too common, the hype about Clap Your Hands Say Yeah appears to have been justified, as was clear at their superb show May 21 at SOhO Restaurant & Music Club.

The show started with two songs off the band’s less-loved second album, the title track “Some Loud Thunder,” which singer Alec Ounsworth soldiered through despite receiving shocks from his microphone, and the early highlight “Satan Said Dance.”

The rest of their set practically alternated song-for-song between their self-titled debut that drew the aforementioned hype and their return-to-form 2011 album Hysterical. This setlist pattern was almost certainly by design, subtly sending the message that the new album is just as vital as the first, and that the band is happy to embrace the present and future while still celebrating the past.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah has a signature style, sort of a Feelies/Yo La Tengo/Talking Heads hybrid to my ears, with a no-nonsense 1-2-3-4 beat and erudite but hard-to-decipher lyrics. Gems included “Hysterical,” “In This Home on Ice” and “The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth,” which had the crowd jumping up and down with joy.

The main set closed super-strong with “Details of the War” and its almost Velvet Underground “Heroin”-like build-up, “Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away,” “Maniac” and “Heavy Metal.”

For an encore, they wrapped up with one from their latest album, “Ketamine and Ecstasy,” and as the final word, the last song from their first album, “Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood.”

What else could one do but clap their hands and say, “Yeah”?

Setlist

Some Loud Thunder
Satan Said Dance
Gimme Some Salt
Same Mistake
Over and Over Again (Lost and Found)
Hysterical
In This Home on Ice
In a Motel
The Skin of my Yellow Country Teeth
The Witness’ Dull Surprise
Misspent Youth
Details of the War
Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away
Maniac
Heavy Metal

Encore

Ketamine and Ecstasy
Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood

Noozhawk contributing writer Jeff Moehlis is a professor of mechanical engineering at UCSB. Upcoming show recommendations, advice from musicians, interviews and more are available on his Web site, music-illuminati.com.

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