Yeah Yeah Yeahs / All Points West / July 31, 2009

Wes Orshoski
Yeah Yeah Yeahs' Karen O. wears a "Get Well M.C.A." armband while performing at All Points West on July 31, 2009. The Beastie Boys dropped out of the fest due to M.C.A.'s cancer.

Liberty State Park; Jersey City, NJ

You could only see it on the jumbotrons flanking the stage, but tucked under the yards of torn fabric that made up her elaborate costume, Karen O wore a white armband that read "Get Well MCA." Performing on the first night of All Points West 2009, The Yeah Yeah Yeahs were the first mainstage act to give props to fellow New Yorkers the Beastie Boys, who cancelled their Friday closing set due to Adam Yauch's cancer diagnosis. And even though Jay-Z was yet to follow, the Yeahs did their best to treat their hometown crowd to a headliner-caliber show.

As once-threatening storm clouds gave way to clear skies, the band tore into a collection of kinetic, career-spanning tunes. The set kicked off with a three-pronged attack of "Heads Will Roll," "Cheated Hearts," and "Black Tongue," which had fans crowded around the stage stomping in the mud like toddlers sloshing through rain puddles. Guitar virtuosos Nick Zinner provided the sonic assault, but as usual, all eyes were on Karen O, who posed, strutted, skipped and whirled across the stage like a punk dervish.

As the sun began to set, the band's ferocity gave way to more tender tunes like "Skeletons," "Soft Shock" and a haunting acoustic version of "Maps," which Karen dedicated to their families and the Beasties' Yauch. The Yeahs picked up the energy with a fierce conclusion of "Y Control" and "Date With a Night," leaving the APW crowd with one of the days most ballsy and brilliant performances.