2/27/14 – Great Scott

Indie rock darlings Yellow Ostrich certainly had a lot to live up to when they took the close-packed stage at Great Scott on Thursday night. It was almost midnight, and after opener Teen treated us to the longest sound check in history, the crowd was feeling restless. But as soon as Alex Schaaf, Michael Tapper, Jared Van Fleet and Zach Rose ripped into a rendition of new song “Any Wonder” that sent picks flying, all was forgiven.

The Brooklyn-based band, which was beginning its five-week tour to promote their new album Cosmos, is a concertgoer’s dream. On stage they maintain the complexity of their studio work, but infuse it with a spastic energy that makes their concerts particularly rewarding. Their albums, even at their headbanging-iest on tracks like “Marathon Runner,” tend to be easy listening, like a more interesting Mumford and Sons. Live, Yellow Ostrich cranks up the volume and guitar to earsplitting levels, reminding you that they are definitely a rock band at heart. They’re hard not to love, especially with lead singer Schaaf — Leonardo-DiCaprio-in-Titanic hair and all — chirping “Thank you!” after every song.

The group performed mostly off of Cosmos, which had dropped two days earlier on February 25. Luckily Schaaf and Co. didn’t make the crowd wait long before offering a dreamy rendition of their best-known track, “WHALE” (which Schaaf jokingly dubbed “WHALE 2”). After a head-banging and eardrum-bursting performance of new song “How Do You Do It,” they closed the 50-minute set with crowd favorite “Marathon Runner” off of 2012’s Strange Land. The crowd at Great Scott even claimed the honor of first encore on their tour with a thunderous performance of fan favorite “Elephant King.”

Fans hoping a Yellow Ostrich concert will play exactly like their albums will (probably) be pleasantly surprised. On stage, their songs take on a harder edge. The hilarious banter between Schaaf and van Fleet, and between Schaaf and the audience, kept things feeling light. But without a doubt, the experience is not the kind of chill listening their albums allow. And even if you haven’t had time to binge listen and memorize their newest album, you will spend most of the night silently (if enthusiastically) nodding along.

As the song says — Yellow Ostrich, I think u are great.

U Are Great, Yellow Ostrich
  • Comical interactions with audience
  • Well-rehearsed but loose
  • Heavy on new material
8.9Overall Score

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