Even though it hadn’t quite been a year since I’d seen Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, I was really looking forward to this show. It was the 10th anniversary of the release of the self-titled album and the band was on tour to play the whole thing start to finish, with a little bit of newer material on top.
I walked into a packed house at Electric Owl to the sound of ‘Clap Your Hands!’ and the excitement started. Though I don’t feel one way or the other about the linking songs, ‘Sunshine And Clouds (And Everything Proud)’, and ‘Blue Turning Gray’, I love the rest of this (in my opinion) pretty damn flawless album. I think ‘Let The Cool Goddess Rust Away’ was the first song I’d ever heard and Alec Ounsworth’s voice just stuck with me from the beginning. Though a bit grating and grimace inducing at first, a song where Ounsworth’s unique sound outshines the rest of the band, like ‘Over And Over Again (Lost And Found)’, went from something I’d skip over to a song I’d listen to all the way through as I went through the album start to finish. ‘Details Of The War’ is probably my least favourite full-length song on the album because it feels a bit lagging behind the pace set by the majority of the album whereas ‘The Skin Of My Yellow Country Teeth’ is my quintessential Clap Your Hands Say Yeah song. I don’t think there’s another song on the album or albums since where Ounsworth has strained his voice letting it crack and break out of key as much as this gem that they slotted into the middle of the self-titled album but I still would bring it up as my prime example of what I thought of the bands’ sound, that being said, the follow-up song ‘Is This Love?’ would probably be my second choice.
It was kind of unfortunate though, as the chorus of ‘Is This Love?’ sounded way off to me each time they got to it. The band had been playing the whole album up-tempo from the regular, and while I loved the hi-hat work on the song, the chorus sounded to me like it just didn’t match up at all, so it was a bit disappointing but then they played ‘Heavy Metal’ and any disappointment just kind of melted away. They moved through ‘Blue Turning Gray’ and ‘In This Home On Ice’, getting into ‘Gimme Some Salt’ which is always thought stuck out like a sore thumb on the album. It’s a great sore thumb, don’t get me wrong but the dark, deep guitar and bass lines stand out against the bright instrumentation in the other tracks on the album. It’s a very distinctive song on what is a really unique album. And with that, ‘Upon This Tidal Wave Of Young Blood’ wrapped up the Clap Your Hands Say Yeah section of the set.
The band left Ounsworth on stage alone to do his solo thing and play ‘Into Your Alien Arms’ (Hysterical) before coming back and getting into place to play ‘Some Loud Thunder’, the title track from their second album. Then they got into the real good stuff since that self-titled album, with a couple excellent songs from Hysterical, ‘Same Mistake’ and ‘Ketamine And Ecstasy’. The Hysterical isn’t exactly what you’d expect from the band if you listened to the self-titled album right before it and while it might not be a masterpiece, the majority of the album is incredibly catchy and I think it’s great in its own right. ‘Same Mistake’ has a pretty standard modern indie sound, whereas ‘Ketamine And Ecstasy’ is definitely ‘80s inspired. This doesn’t stop the two songs from having the same driving hi-hat beat that is probably played out by now but I still can’t get enough of it and the surge it gives me in a song that really clicks with my taste. The set got wrapped up with the still-crowd-favourite dance number ‘Satan Said Dance’. There was a lot of issues with clapping on time but the crowd was way into it before they left the stage.
For the encore they came back out to play two more songs: the first I forget, and they closed the night with ‘Adam’s Plane’ from Hysterical. I really want to say that the first song of the encore was ‘Maniac’ from Hysterical but I’m at that point where every time I listen to an upbeat song from Hysterical or Only Run, I say to myself “…I’m pretty sure they play this at some point…”, so my memory of it is shot. ‘Adam’s Plane’, however, sticks out as it’s one of the fewer slower songs and has a very distinct song pattern in the chorus that has a flow that I really like. It’s a beautiful song to end the night on and a great endcap for what was an awesome show.
While Clap Your Hands Say Yeah wasn’t exactly a life- or music-taste-altering album for me, it’s a unique sound that I got into during the last bit of high school that has stuck with me ‘til now and getting to hear it from beginning to end (or any album beginning to end) as the band played it live, was something special. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah remain a great band and if you’re a fan of the first album, then this tour is really something that you don’t want to miss out on. So if you can, catch them while you can because chances are, you won’t get a chance to hear all these great songs packed into one live show anytime soon.