The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have returned with their first new album in nine years and celebrated with a thrilling show at Forest Hills Stadium with help from Japanese Breakfast and the Linda Lindas.
Rising teen sensations the Linda Lindas kicked off the epic night with their fantastic, upbeat punk that feels impossible to hate and unable to be anything but a fan of. Coming to the stage in matching David Byrne-esque big suits, they were ready to rock from the second their picked up their instruments and unleashed their hyped-up punk rock on an eager crowd. Even at such early ages (their drummer is twelve, y'all), they already come across as seasoned vets and their between song banter was spot on, witty, and innocent. Their unapologetic and straightforward songwriting seems lightyears ahead of their ages and while they've certainly had an incredible summer to perfect their live show, it's still incredibly impressive to see their stage presence and witness how much fun they appear to be having. Sharing vocal duties across the group, the quartet are totally fearless onstage and while one is singing, the others are dancing together, at times in formation, and bouncing along to their pogo-style riffs. "Racist Sexist Boy," their viral hit from early in the pandemic was a fun and fierce closing track that brought out their rawest moments for one final killer performance. If the torch is being passed on, there are no hands more capable than those of the Linda Lindas.
Taking the middle spot, Michelle Z, aka Japanese Breakfast, brought her delicious pop sound full of deep synths and melodic sax riffs to the stage for a wondrous set of jubilant rock. Armed with a killer backing band, she took control of the stage with her elaborate gong playing, humble stage humor, and lovely guitar playing. Playing mostly from last year's breakout album Jubilee, Michelle sounded rich and full of flavor, her band adding such meaningful touches with each move and the saxophone in particular added real highlights to her set. "Be Sweet" was a buoyant jam full of mesmerizing flourishes and gave her the best rock star moment of the set as the crowd moved along with stirring passion as she graced us with the fantastic tune. "I was going to come out here and read you something from the book I wrote all about how the Karen O changed my life, but I didn't want it to seem like some cheesy marketing scam. It's true though! When I saw a half-Korean woman leading the band it gave me the confidence to think I could do this too!" It was an inspiring moment and felt so special to be able to see such an incendiary line-up and know the bands themselves were just as excited to be a part of the night.
As the rain fluttered on and off, it was no match for the crowd that had sold out the stadium to finally see the beloved Yeah Yeah Yeahs return to their hometown of New York City and as the lights went down and the opening, droning notes of "Spitting Off the Edge of the World" started to play, the entire venue erupted with applause. Slowing, the diving Karen O took to the stage in her elegant getup that puts her in the exclusive company of Björk and Lady Gaga when it comes to stage attire and as she began to sing, you could feel that the culmination of this incredible evening had finally arrived. "We're the Yeah Yeah Yeahs and we are BACK New York City!!" she screamed and the crowd went wild. The iconic and era-defining band of the early aughts has been such a pillar in the city's music scene for two decades and being part of their return felt like magic. While the show was in celebration of their comeback record, Cool It Down, the band still made sure to play plenty of old highlights and even though the new songs sounded great live, it was clearly a night for nostalgia. "Cheated Hearts" and "Black Tongue" both hit with raw power and got the crowd hyped so by the time "Down Boy" was played, everyone was worked up and ready to rock. "Burning," one of the best tracks from the new album, was a smash and the ending really built the energy up just so the band could absolutely crush it when they dropped the beat for "Zero." One of their first resurgent anthems and the one that pushed them into their synth-punk era, it remained a massive highlight from the mid-aughts and was the first epic moment of their set. While Karen is the obvious center of attention on stage in her magical get-ups, Nick and Brian do their own to hold things together and deliver the impeccable tunes for which Karen gets to sing over. Decked in all black they have done a remarkable job of figuring out how to still put on a show while working alongside one of the best front people to ever do the gig. Brian Chase levitates over his drum kit, his elaborate style of playing enhancing each momentous beat while Nick Zinner absolutely shreds on guitar to create massive walls of sound. "Wolf" and "Fleez" were two more highlights from the new album and made for a great middle portion of the night, but it was clear that everything was building to something rather epic. After a bit of sustained melody the lingering riff to "Maps" rang out and Karen O took a moment to address the historic night of having the best girl gang of Asian American women fronting all the bands on the line-up this evening while stating the significance of seeing this moment come to fruition and with that grand declaration, the emotional pinnacle of the night was upon us. To be in the room for one of the most defining anthems of a decade and a generation, it was life-affirming to be in the middle of the crowd and hear people of all ages chant the iconic "They don't love you like I love you" over and over and feel the sentiment radiating off the crowd. A special moment for all. The band followed it with the epic run of "Gold Lion," "Y Control," and then capped off the main set with a monstrous "Heads Will Roll" that brought the ultimate dance party for one final number. It was a miraculous run of songs all of which proved the legacy of the band is still firmly intact. Nine years since their last album, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have struck back and aimed to do what many of their aught-era-peers have failed to accomplish. Sure The Strokes and Interpol are still playing to massive crowds and headlining festivals, but they're doing it as an act of nostalgia as either haven't released an acclaimed album in quite some time. Yes, the Strokes did win a Grammy back in 2021 for their album The New Normal, but it's not a record that can hold a candle to their past. On Cool It Down the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have made a new, perhaps final, impression on all of us that revives the sentiment that was lost with 2013's bummer of an album Mosquito. At the moment, it's not clear how the band will continue as there's no tour in the works and it'll be interesting to see if this turns out to be their final act. If so, they took a risk of coming back nearly a decade later to add a final chapter to their careers, but this one was worth it and Cool It Down is certainly an improvement from when we last heard from them. Hopefully this isn't the end of the band and they can continue to live on for those who still love and admire their art. As they celebrated this new album, it was clear that they still are one of the best rock bands of the moment and their encore proved they can still break out the deep cuts and make people fall in love with them all over again. Here's to hoping we don't have to wait almost a decade to get to do it again.
01 "Spitting Off the Edge of the World"
02 "Cheated Hearts"
03 "Black Tongue"
04 "Down Boy"
09 "Soft Shock"
13 "Gold Lion"
14 "Y Control"
15 "Heads Will Roll"
16 "Poor Song"
18 "Date With the Night