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Review Mon Jul 27 2015

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Relived Their Debut at Lincoln Hall

cyhsy2.jpgThere's no denying that Alec Ounsworth output has changed drastically since Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's self-titled album. Ounsworth has taken his band's sound into a much fuller and atmospheric realm, filling in any gaps that were originally there with synths textured ambiance. While the evolution of the band has been interesting and actually quite good, there is still something immensely interesting about jangly self-released debut. It rambled along with a rawness and genuineness that most releases fail to achieve. It's no surprise that the beloved album's tenth anniversary has prompted Ounsworth to play the album in its entirety, reminding fans of a simpler and time. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah came to Lincoln Hall this weekend and transported people back to where they were a decade ago; giving the crowd a performance they had been eagerly anticipating.

It didn't take long for me to realize that Teen Men were something special. Nick Krill and Joe Hobson of The Spinto Band united with visual artists Albert Birney and Catharine Maloney to create a band that is as much a band as it is a performance group. Krill spoke between songs in near peotic cadence, delivering simple intros to songs and exclamations the likes of "Let's vaporize!" It was perfectly weird and affective as they lead into the band's cohesive performance. Their movements and songs were choreographed with their immersive visuals projected onto a screen between them. Every song carried a different visual feeling, but remained true to the electronic pop with a dash of psychedelia they were delivering.

teenmen.jpg"It's All Rushing Back" played with grainy VHS quality visuals in the background while "Adventure Kids" and "Kids Will Be Kids" were performed in sync with their music videos. The tightness and time dependent choreography didn't inhibit a sense of fun and even loose improvisation throughout the set, especially when the band interacted with the screen. During "The Sea, The Sea", Maloney and Birney played catch with an image of a falling man, tossing him from one end of the screen to another. It didn't feel stiff or distract from the overall performance, instead enhancing the whole experience.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah's self-titled album came out right around the time I was discovering music all on my lonesome, sans input from friends and family. Ounsworth's band was a discovery I could call my own. I never got to see them live during this period and while subsequent tour provided a taste of the original album, it was never every amazing song. So, seeing Ounsworth step on stage with a mega phone in hand filled me and the audience with visible glee. Within seconds the circus-ringleader feeling of the song boomed and his whelps of "Clap your hands!" matched that of the crowd's. It was immediately clear there would be no stopping from here on out.

Ounsworth ran through the album with barely any hesitation, only occasionally reassuring the crowd he was going to keep going. It seemed like we was trying to get through it with as much energy as he could. Not necessarily because he was disinterested in the proceedings, but more like he was trying to capture the vocal spontaneity and joy inherent in the album's core. He certainly took it all in as he really made these decade old songs come to life. "Let the Cool Goddess Rust Away" and "Over and Over Again (Lost and Found)" came out with such immediacy, really solidifying that this amazing album was truly getting the performance it deserved.

cyhsy.jpgThe highlights of the set definitely came with Ounsworth immersing himself in the process. Whether it was crouching down to reach the miniature toy piano for "Sunshine and Clouds (And Everything Proud) or playing his harmonica at the end of "Details of the War". There was no hiding that his devoted fans truly appreciated Ounsworth attentiveness to his early songs. "The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth" hit the crowd the hardest as they bounced around with unabated enthusiasm. As the album came closer to its end, the Lincoln Hall audience grew more enthralled. Ounsworth shared his longest conversation with the crowd right before "Upon This Tidal Wave of Young Blood". He paused and smiled to the audience, "Ten years ago this would have been the last song." It was a final hurrah for Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, leading the way for the band's subsequent albums.

The latter half of the set started out with Ounsworth standing alone onstage with his guitar, performing a very tender rendition of "Into Your Alien Arms". His voice twinkled gently and felt like it was at its most open and vulnerable. Ounsworth provide what was a touching start to the rest of his catalog, which then grew to the fuller sound he has embraced. It became very apparent how far the music has changed with "Some Loud Thunder" leading into two songs from "As Always" and "Coming Down". They still retain a feeling of fun and the lyrics that you would expect from Ounsworth, but they sound completely different. It was welcome change of pace, especially with the crowd coming incredibly close to earlier heights with "Satan Said Dance" where Ounsworth reached the microphone out the crowd to chant along. He finished off the evening with "Adam's Plane", letting everyone return to the present just a little bit happier.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

Read this feature »


  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
Big Rock Candy Mountain
Boxx Magazine
Brooklyn Vegan Chicago
Can You See The Sunset From The Southside
Chicago Reader Music
Chicagoist Arts & Events
Chicago Music Guide
Chicago Singles Club
Country Music Chicago
Cream Team
Dark Jive
The Deli Chicago
Jim DeRogatis
Fake Shore Drive
Gowhere Hip Hop
The Hood Internet
Jaded in Chicago
Largehearted Boy
Little White Earbuds
Live Fix Blog
Live Music Blog
Loud Loop Press
Oh My Rockness
Pop 'stache
Pop Matters
Resident Advisor
Sound Opinions
Sun-Times Music Blog
Theft Liable to Prosecution
Tribune Music
UR Chicago
Victim Of Time
WFMU's Beware of the Blog
Windy City Rock


Abbey Pub
Andy's Jazz Club
Aragon Ballroom
Auditorium Theatre
Beat Kitchen
Bottom Lounge
Buddy Guy's Legends
The Burlington
California Clipper
Concord Music Hall
Congress Theater
Cubby Bear
Double Door
Elbo Room
Empty Bottle
Green Mill
The Hideout
Honky Tonk BBQ
House of Blues
Kingston Mines
Lincoln Hall
Logan Square Auditorium
Mayne Stage
The Mutiny
Old Town School of Folk Music
Park West
The Promontory
Red Line Tap
Reggie's Rock Club & Music Joint
The Riviera
Thalia Hall
The Shrine
Symphony Center
Tonic Room
Uncommon Ground
The Vic
The Whistler

  Labels, Promoters
  & Shops:

Alligator Records
Beverly Records
Bloodshot Records
Dave's Records
Delmark Records
Drag City
Dusty Groove
Flameshovel Records
Groove Distribution
He Who Corrupts
Jam Productions
Jazz Record Mart
Kranky Records
Laurie's Planet of Sound
Minty Fresh
Numero Group
mP Shows
Permanent Records
Reckless Records
Smog Veil Records
Southport & Northport Records
Thick Records
Thrill Jockey Records Touch & Go/Quarterstick Records
Victory Records

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Transmission is the music section of Gapers Block. It aims to highlight Chicago music in its many varied forms, as well as cover touring acts performing in the city. More...
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