Review: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah – Revelling in Their Quirkiness


Clap Your Hands Say Yeah in Cape TownHipsters in tight, primary coloured trousers were everywhere, but in between the unkempt beards and round, thick-rimmed glasses were people of all colours and creeds, as young as 15 and old as 55, all gathered to see a cult, Brooklyn-based indie rock band in a strange hall in Wynberg opposite the municipal electricity department.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah is a band which, depending on who you speak to, lies somewhere between complete obscurity and absolute world domination. Utterly unknown to many, CYHSY is in fact known to hipsters and indie kids the world over, most notably for their self recorded, produced and released (yes, and self-titled) debut album. In Cape  Town on Friday the band attracted a substantial gathering of people, some who knew every word and others who weren’t even sure where they were.

The concert venue, easily spotted by the five-meter wide ‘YEAH’ emblazoned on its roof in Christmas lights, was perfectly obscure – a new trend for bands as illustrated by Two Door Cinema Club earlier this year. Nonetheless it was surprisingly well-suited to the array of people who showed up. It allowed for some to sit outside chatting idly, while others stood on the elevated side lines intently studying the stage and its occupants, while the rest writhed around furiously in ‘the pit’ to the energetic indie melodies of CYHSY and the well-chosen local supporting acts; Sideshow, Beach Party and Spoek Mathambo.

Clap Your Hands Say Yeah came on just after eleven to an eager and well-oiled audience. By then that hazardous rock concert trench that rages before the stage had extended across most of the floor while even the sidelines were packed with the slightly more careful (or slightly less energetic) partygoers. The band played primarily from their first and third albums with the kind of energy and enthusiasm that demonstrates exactly why a live concert is so much better than a CD.  Even songs that I had previously dismissed as somewhat lethargic and monotonous came alive with all that roughness and dynamism on stage.

Frontman Alec Ounsworth’s monotone slurred vocals sounded the same when he talked – a detail which spoke of the honesty and integrity that has thus far defined a group which has turned down many opportunities to go mainstream and quite possibly make millions.

This was a great gig from a great band to see live, especially for those who like things a little quirky and off-the-beaten-track. As the first offering from the Adidas All Originals Live Performances series it has got me salivating for more. I wait with anticipation for their next announcement.

by Mark Venter


Clap Your Hands Say Yeah performed on 13 April 2012 at the Wittebome Civic Centre in Wynberg – the opening act of the Adidas All Originals Live Performances series.

View photos of Clap Your Hands Say Yeah’s performance.

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