Few rock bands can claim a rise to fame as meteoric as that of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. The New York trio have taken up residence not just in the music and style press, but in the fashion magazines too. On the one hand, you could argue that this is of little consequence - no one buys Elle for their musical recommendations in much the same way that no one buys Q to check out the latest trousers. On the other, it gives some indication of the astonishing speed with which the Yeah Yeah Yeahs' hype has spread.
Bands don't normally pick up this much press after two singles on a small indie label, especially if they sound like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Their music - pounding drums, a solitary scratchy guitar and yowling female vocals - has less to do with the artful Velvet Underground fetishism of the Strokes than with a largely forgotten strain of noisy early 1990s US alt-rock: Royal Trux, Boss Hog, Pussy Galore. Even at the height of the grunge era, those were pretty recherche names, their sound too scuzzy and shambolic for mass appeal.
What the Yeah Yeah Yeahs have that those bands did not becomes apparent when singer Karen O strides on stage, sporting a pair of ripped purple tights. She is a magnetic presence, pouring champagne over the front rows of the audience, writhing on the floor, throwing herself around in a flailing blur of limbs. In a world of static, mumbling frontmen, she is charismatic and glamorous. These qualities are so rare and appealing that the audience seem prepared to overlook the troubling sensation that her performance is less for their benefit than for the phalanx of cameramen at the foot of the stage. When she notices one snapper facing the crowd, she leans forward and ruffles his hair. He turns around, she strikes a pose, he takes a photograph.
Behind her, the music battles against the Astoria sound system, its tone control set as ever to "indistinct sludge". Occasionally, something leaps from the murk. The jerking, avant-funk of Bang sounds fantastic. Art Star lurches thrillingly from pop verses to squealed chorus. For the most part, however, it's a one-woman show.