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Coachella 2009 Day 3: Yeah Yeah Yeahs take a soft touch

April 19, 2009 | 11:16 pm

Kareno In what became a running theme of this year's Coachella, art-rock heroes Yeah Yeah Yeahs brought a more subdued, reflective mood to their early evening set. Karen O, clad in shiny gold metallic dots and high-tops, mesmerized the main stage crowd with a restrained show thick with dramatic tension.

With the sun slowly setting in the background, the trio (occasionally augmented by a keyboardist) touched on all three of their albums, digging deepest into the softer side of their new album, "It's Blitz," opening with the melancholy "Runaway." The new ballad "Skeletons" was an especially evocative moment, with Karen O fully immersing herself into the song's somber mood.

When they did relieve the tension, it was in magnificent fashion. Propulsive single "Zero" crackled with even more percolating energy live, augmented by a sea of inflatable eyeballs being unleashed on the crowd. Guitarist Nick Zinner is still one of the most inventive ax-slingers of his generation, and drummer Brian Chase's lock-step dance beats kept the field jumping.

As can be expected, "Maps" was the show's most magical moment, and resulted in the sweetest sing-along of the weekend. It was a triumphant set that found the Yeah Yeah Yeahs able to control an unruly festival crowd with a kiss.

--Scott T. Sterling

Photo of Karen O. by Spencer Weiner / Los Angeles Times