There was some skepticism in the air early on at the Trustees. The opening band, the Perry, Georgia-based chill-wave purveyor known as Washed Out, started so promptly that by 8:20, with half the crowd still not present, they were fondly bidding us farewell with their last song.
After the delayed start of Edward Sharpe a couple months ago, it was clear this show would run punctually.
Some recent arrivals, betting nothing would start before 8:30, cried foul, wanting to hear more from the openers; others pointed out the young band only has 5 or 6 songs total. They played well and will likely be counted among top 10 lists of bands to watch at SXSW, CMJ, et al in the next year or two.
The 40 minute interlude between bands consisting of piped in music, which ranged from dub to a Bobby Brown song from the Ghostbusters 2 soundtrack, was quickly forgotten once Yeasayer took the stage.
The band and production were top notch. Playing as a 5-piece (the three members of the band plus a drummer and an extra percussionist/keyboard player), the group was tight, offering up a mix of material from their new album, Odd Blood, plus their first album, All Hour Cymbals.
The crowd completely disregarded most of the seating and filled the open front section and aisles to dance, something Chris Keating commented on part way into the show.
"Thanks for not sitting down," he told the wildly appreciative audience. "When I saw all those seats, I was worried."
The full band arrangement takes a big step toward correcting what had always been the Achilles heel of live performances by electronic acts - it's not much fun staring at a guy with a laptop. Further elevating the performance was a clever array of effects and programming that allowed the band to open the structures of songs for solos and improvisation. It wasn't just a louder version of the songs as they appeared on the records. This was a real live show that hinged on precision and chemistry; the quintet possesses no shortage of either.
What was perhaps most impressive was the dynamic range of the band. The drone of a sustained sitar note would hang over the room, bringing temporary calm before erupting into the big beats and richly layered guitars and keys that have made the group a favorite among alt-dance enthusiasts. It was a proper sonic journey made all the better by lighting and staging that amplified the experience rather than distracting from it.
After a big opening, the band settled into a groove, brought in a couple of the mellower, more sentimental tunes from the new record that blend a dash of Bollywood with a dose of Duran Duran and a certain post-hip hop sensibility. They built back up to an epic close that drew such wild applause that the band returned for a dazzling two song encore.
As the people filed out, clearly energized, the question that lingered is why talented, nationally recognized acts aren't coming and playing big rooms in Savannah more often. Following the success of both the Edward Sharpe and Yeasayer shows in the Trustees, hopefully we are beginning to see a critical mass necessary to support these types of shows more often, not just once every three months, but dare-I-say, once a month, or, gasp, every other week?
There is no shortage of talented contemporary musicians making interesting music. They should be coming here. If you saw the enthusiasm and energy in the Trustees Sunday night, it would be clear why.