The Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Shelter, 24th April, 2002
If the hair was any kind of clue, an unsuspecting passer by might think Female Hercules were a retro hippie band in the style of Kula Shaker or Cosmic Rough Rider. Lead singer Conzo must have problems finding his own head among the overgrowth. Still, image means nothing as the ad tells us, and Female Hercules couldn't have sounded less hippified if they pulled the petals off a big daisy.
Opening number "Fuck art, let's rock" is a no-bones manifesto; as loud and guitar based as the name suggests. It blows your ears away and renders your head numb for a good twenty minutes after - the low ceiling of The Shelter doesn't help either - but it's music with a pulse and for that we're immensely grateful.
See, a wonderful thing has happened in the Indie Mainstream. Last years, bland bands like Travis and The Stereophonics were peddling bucketloads of their woolly hat music. This year, The White Stripes and The Strokes are paving the way for music that feels fresh and exciting. And if you like your bands particularly spunky, look no further than New Yorks' Yeah Yeah Yeahs.
Lead singer Karen O aims to shock. But she does so in a way that makes you smile rather than cringe. Strutting about on stage, she tugs up her strapless dress (at both ends), throws her head back and swigs from a can of beer then sprays some at the crowd. During "Art Star", a screaming affair with a lovely poppy "do do do" comedown, she squats on the floor howling and a stream of spit hangs from her smeared lipsticked mouth. At one point, she does a kind of stage dive that ends up with her on the floor. She crawls back onstage laughing with black marks all over her arms like a deranged mechanic.
This kind of hedonistic stuff makes for great viewing and if the songs were nothing special, you would still emerge with a big bemused grin on your face. However, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs are delightfully inventive and the mix of Karen O's PJ Harvey/Courtney Love vocals along with the use of backing tracks, the warp speed drumming of Brian Chase and crunching guitar melodies of Nick Zinner make these kids something to get excited about.
And who said punk rock was dead?