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Clap Your Hands Say Yeah Are Lovely Folks: A Live Review

Photo by Ben ALlen

It was cold and blustery outside last night, but inside the Turf Club, it was warm and cozy. Of course, some of that is on account of shelter from the elements, but it was the music and musings of Alex Ounsworth, aka Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, that provided the warmth. 

A modestly sized crowd cozied up to the stage for a bit of a divergence from a typical CYHSY live experience. There was no opener and the band’s configuration and roles shifted throughout the night. The material bounced around as well, across their nearly 20 years of material.  

Photo by Ben Allen

It must be tricky managing setlists as an artist with so many of their most popular songs at the front end of their career. Ounsworth touched on this briefly before playing a track of the new album, ‘New Fragility.’ He announced the next song was off the new album and that, “the new stuff is pretty good, too.” 

It was moments like those that defined the night and made it more than just a series of songs. He also touched on the ‘time is soup’ phenomenon exacerbated by the pandemic, noting that it’d been long since he was last in St. Paul or Minneapolis. Then he admitted he didn’t know what it was, and it could have been ten years ago or maybe it was last year. It’s hard to tell anymore. 

Photo by Ben Allen

If you made a list of the best synth riffs of all time, “The Skin of My Yellow Country Teeth” would be on it. Full stop. I don’t care if it’s a top 100 or top 10.

Sure, there’s so much more to the song than the synth, but whenever it comes on, it’s Goosebump Town, population: this guy. I was surprised this one wasn’t left until the last three songs, but it seemed better programming wise to fit it in earlier in the set. 

Then the keyboard player had a go on vocals, then the drummer and bass player left and Alec hopped on keys while the keyboard player again took over vocal duties. She left at the end of the track and it was just us and Alec. 

After playing a pair of piano-only shows in “exotic locations,” Ounsworth decided to incorporate a couple of piano-only songs into the sets of this, “An evening with” tour. I put that term in quotes because he listed Sicily and Vermont. I’ve never been to Vermont, but I’m not sure that anybody who has would classify it as exotic. 

All in all, it was a really pleasant night. I would be remiss if I didn’t touch on the anxiety of acclimating to indoor concerts after so much sheltering in place. You needed proof of vaccination to enter, but there was no mask policy indoors.

Being around that many people feels like a lot, but the fact that it was not a sold-out crowd, along with a relatively calm and respectful crowd made for a relatively easy experience. 

Photo by Ben Allen

I would leave the house to attend another one of these shows. For anybody in the path of its upcoming schedule, I’d recommend copping a ticket, even if just for that dang synth line. 

Written by Ben Allen

In my photography, I try to tell the story of the relationship of people who play music and that music's listeners. I'm also the tall guy you probably got stuck behind at a show. First concert: Nirvana at Roy Wilkins Auditorium, Dec 1993. Yes, I am old. Tall and old.

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