Growing up with grace is difficult for any band, but when, like Yeah Yeah Yeahs, you make your early name with a bratty, sexy, art-punk squall, with feral, strutting anthems of youth, what do you do when you’re all edging into your 30s and you’ve already done the ‘going electronic’ shtick?
New album Mosquito goes some, if not all of the way to answering that question, and it seems particularly relevant tonight. The ATP festival series itself is moving on, having announced its final weekenders at the end of the year (YYYs played their 10-year bash in 2009) and most of the crowd are around the more mature end of the spectrum.
Yeah Yeah Yeahs have curated the whole day, with sets from Black Lips, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion and dozens more, but the electric sense as the last non-YYYs band finishes is that there’s only one thing people are really here for.
They open with their taut and moody gospel-punk comeback single "Sacrilege," and from the instant Karen O steps out, dressed as some sort of high-ranking disco civil servant in spangly suit and silver hat, no one is looking anywhere else but at this most magnetic performer’s every move. If ‘Mosquito’ the album is mainly about exploring Yeah Yeah Yeahs always-potent subtler, subdued side, they’re not going to be so self-indulgent as to recreate that mood live; they follow up fast with the title track, the punkiest stomp on the record, then knock the room clean into hysteria with "Bang," the standout track from their raucous debut EP.
Their hit-base further established with "Cheated Hearts," they do venture out into spookier territory from across all their albums, such as the ghostly, beautiful "Subway" and the devastatingly sweet "Soft Shock". It’s here, you feel, that their forward momentum lies rather than in the past triumphs of "Zero" or "Miles Away", commanding as they are. "Gold Lion," combining moody slow-burn with searing explosion and release is a particular standout tonight, as is "Maps," “the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ LOVE SONG!” which never fails to floor the hardest in the room. You wouldn’t want them, though, to close with any other song than "Date With The Night," clattering and careering to its climax with Karen barking, bouncing, flailing, swallowing the mic. They may be making maturity work for them, but in the hours of darkness, deep down. Yeah Yeah Yeahs will always be those punk brats at heart. Emily Mackay