Live Review: Yelle – The El Rey Theatre, Los Angeles
Thu, 19 Mar 2009 12:18:24
You need not possess a command of Française to appreciate the cheeky antics of Yelle, née Julie Budet, a petite pop powerhouse who sings of everything from phallically-challenged rappers (sorry, Cuizinier) to feminine mores with equal enthusiasm. Yelle’s modest 13-song catalog from Pop-Up, her 2008 debut album, is a collection of chipper electro ditties performed with the sweet smirk of an aged Lolita. Her lyrics are suggestive, yet delivered with the pertness of a youthful innocent, her synth-peppered songs so catchy that they induce English-speaking audience members to sing along and butcher her mother tongue in the process.
Yelle’s near-universal appeal was made manifest at a show at Los Angeles’ El Rey Theatre on Thursday, March 12th, when a mixture of neon-accoutered 20-year-olds and a handful of Francophile Hollywood-types (witness the packed outdoor smoking salon) converged with…Perez Hilton? The self-anointed “Queen of All Media” was on-hand to introduce the rail-thin singer (“one of [his] favorites”), who kicked off the evening with shoulder-shimmy anthem “Tristesse/Joie.” Wearing a puff-sleeved silver mini-dress and glittery leggings, she flirted with her adoring crowd like a modern-day yé-yé girl. Think space cadet France Gall, not French Lily Allen, as other critics have noted.
Yelle’s stage setup was devoid of bells and whistles—save for a giant banner emblazoned with her name—perhaps because she was the only belle upon whom everyone’s eyes were fixed. Feeding off of the audience’s palpable admiration and fist-pumping enthusiasm, she bounded from stage left to stage right as she worked her way through Pop-Up’s creatively rearranged track listing. During “Ce Jeu” she tilted the microphone stand like a coquettish crooner, taking command of front row swooners with winks and gyrations above mind-blowing vocals. Though her voice did not falter or crack, to be sure, an honest observer—however enamored—must relay that her sonance carries the collective musical value of a lollipop. But for the evening, this candy-coated entertainment did not just suffice, it brought bliss that found all but a few austere concert-goers dance, dance, dancing for the entire duration of her set.
Of course, the big question was when Yelle would launch into “Je Veux Te Voir,” the just-coarse-enough hit heard ‘round the world, and especially heavily on MySpace profiles. She smartly placed it smack dab in the middle of the show, eliciting screams and getting stacked heels to stomp onto the El Rey's sticky dance floor. This made its metal-style resurrection during the finale wholly nonsensical—an unnecessary addition to a solid set.
If most shows these days choke on the affectation of crowds consisting of too-cool-for-school cultural savants and ego-driven performers, then Yelle—and her fans—were a delightful breath of fresh air. Who can resist the magnetism of a high-pitched lass squeaking (with heavy accent, of course), “I love you! Are you ready to dannnnce?”
And dance the kiddies did.