Live Shots: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah

Where were the bells, the saws, and the sound of clattering silverware? Neither opener Elvis Perkins in Dearland nor headliners Clap Your Hands Say Yeah matched the gorgeous layering of their CDs. A harmonium, a snare drum played with a rattle, the words, “La-la” being screamed by a drummer, and, of course, the simple sound of clapping into a microphone all comprised an eclectic evening of sound from both groups. Sometimes taking the stage together, the combined effort of both band’s albums “Some Loud Thunder” and “Ash Wednesday” may have been characterized as ambient, but noise was the night’s agenda. Glorious, strenuous noise.

Although Perkins added musicians strategically throughout his opening number, “While You Were Sleeping,” it wasn’t until the entire outfit was on the stage, nearly five or seven verses into the song, that they hit their Dylan-esque peak. The outfit went on to surprise the crowd with covers of folk songs from the 1890’s and finished with an old-school revival reminiscent of Houston’s very own The Medicine Show.

The crowd at Warehouse Live was large and equally comprised of the teenaged crowd and the mid to late-twenties scenesters who get the references to CYHSY frontman Alex Ounsworth’s voice—that being a toss up between the wavering sincerity of Lou Reed or perhaps a cross between Palace Music’s Will Oldham and Pavement’s Stephan Malkmus. Despite the fact the band was on their sophomore album and their freshman tour of Houston (in the fall of 2005, they only visited Dallas and Austin) they had a vigilant crowd of bumping exuberants who related well-enough to songs from the new CYHSY new album but mainly began to warm up when the band got around to playing familiar songs from the first album. They began with a loud megaphone screaming session which seguewayed into a series of cymbal-crashing and drum-pounding riffs like a best of reel of their most intense and soaring musical fare. “Satan Said Dance” propelled the inertia of swaying into a virtual mass frenzy. They finished up their four-encore set with “By the Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth,” and an unabashed display of enthusiasm that (literally) had the crowd clapping in sync and yelling the word, “Yeah!” They are off to tour Europe but promised not to leave Houston off the docket again. - Sarah Gajkowski-Hill

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