Yeah Yeah YeahsLa Zona Rosa, Friday 15
Brooklyn's Yeah Yeah Yeahs blew into SXSW on a whirlwind of buzz that threatened to eclipse anything they actually did onstage. At one point, guitarist Nick Zinner jokingly announced that the YYY's had just signed to Microsoft. If this year-and-a-half-old art-punk trio was fazed by the sudden spray of accolades, they didn't let it show in their solid, engaging, yet altogether lighthearted set. This was especially true for coquettish vocalist Karen O. Sporting a hairdo seemingly conjured out of a good girl/bad girl amalgam of Dorothy Hamill and Chrissie Hynde, the lingerie-and-jeans-clad O. bounced and spun about the expansive La Zona Rosa stage with a slightly unsettling smile on her face. As she sang in her inimitable high-pitched waver, she would occasionally burst into Andy Kaufman-esque giggles as though playing the role of rock goddess was the funniest thing ever. Allowing O. this unbridled freedom was the multifaceted but dead-on drumming of Brian Chase, who looked (and to a lesser extent, played) like a young Max Weinberg. Whether laying down JB's-style funk on the super-sexy "Bang" or exploring cacophonous freeform in the freaked-out chorus of "Art Star," Chase was rock-steady. For his part, Zinner, who resembles a youthful Sid Vicious with bigger hair, made the YYY's sound surprisingly full for a group with only two instrumentalists. Though they mine the same philosophy as the Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and the White Stripes, the YYY's crowd-pleasing sentiment, "It's our time to be hated" (from "Our Time"), seemed to indicate more far-reaching aspirations.