Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Aragon Ballroom; Tue 26
Quick, name Coldplay’s guitarist. The Killers’. You’re stumped, right? Yep, this decade’s been pretty piss-poor in terms of producing guitar gods—well, despite millions of imaginary tweenage ones on Rock Band. But where’s the next Angus, Slash, Mascis, Marr…or even a Malkmus or Thurston Moore? We’re not hungry for technical wizardry, just players with distinct style.
Among all the six-stringers to emerge since the turn of the millennium, Nick Zinner stands out. Beyond looking somewhat cartoonish—drawn by Tim Burton, looks like Tim Burton, all bones, black cloth and big hair—the Yeah Yeah Yeahs guitarist merits icon status.
With Karen O adequately handling the theatrics, vocals and eye candy on her own, Zinner is left to whip up at least 50 percent of the trio’s music. And with that much canvas to fill, the Bard alum splashes color and texture everywhere, spewing imploding riffs, shrill band-saw screeches, chunky punk punches and heavy-metal miasma.
For his latest trick, Zinner makes his instrument mimic synthesizers on the band’s fantastic third album, It’s Blitz! With effects pedals and nuance, basic strumming on the opening “Zero” blossoms into the Star Gate sequence from 2001. Live, the record’s slick dance-floor bent sounds bigger, meaner and more like the band’s roots.
The addition of former Slint and Zwan guitarist Dave Pajo to the stage act piques our interest, but don’t make too much of it. He’s a hired gun to help out with rhythm and keyboard parts. That such a respected musician is a footnote, or that we hardly need mention Karen O’s cache of kooky new costumes, is a testament to what the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have become—a name that will be more than a reference on VH1’s inevitable flashback I Love the Aughties.