Peruse the YouTube comment sections for any Yelle video and you’ll read things like “No fucking clue what she is saying, but this shit is fire!!” to “I don’t even understand French, but I always get excited when there’s a new Yelle video—gives me life.” That vibe stood true at the French pop purveyors’ show at The Outer Space Ballroom in Hamden, Conn. Though I was surprised at how many Connecticutians seems to dabble in French (or at least had some mad skills in faking it), bilingual fans and French novices (myself included) were all jamming out and dancing their asses off.
Yelle (né, Julie Budet) graced the stage in a ruby red two-piece that shimmered and sparkled under the stage lights that illuminated each of her booty shakes. Two percussionists stood behind her (one of them being GrandMarnier, aka Jean-François Perrier), decked in black jumpsuits with white stripes painted down each arm and leg. On their chests, three more unconnected white stripes forming the letter Y. As Yelle worked the crowd up front, dancing to the beat and never misstepping, the guys kept the beats pulsating, smashing cymbals, drum machines and synthesizers, and oftentimes, drumming in synchronicity. They started the party while Yelle’s gorgeously seductive pop vocals brought it to the front lines. In just a few seconds, the band’s 80’s reminiscent retro electro-pop set a rousing, riotous tone for what was to come: Dancing. And a LOT of it.
Yelle, as a frontwoman, graciously did everything she could to connect with her audience. She asked us to show her how we shake our hips before “Ba$$in;” she reached out and clasped hands with fans; she pulled one girl on stage to dance. The best audience interaction, however, was the guy the band brought up to sing the bass line of “Interpassion;” he did so with a smile stretching across his face, while gesturing with his hands for the crowd to take pictures.
The set was well-balanced from all three albums, rounded out with the newest tracks to hit streaming services, “Romeo” and “Interpassion.” The energy level endured all set long, as rhythms bounced up and down, setting the band up for its perfectly placed beat drops. “À Cause Des Garçons” and “Je Veux Te Voir” brought the loudest beats and elicited the most dramatic responses from the crowd (aside from “Ce Jeu,” of course).
Those not up to snuff on their French needn’t worry. Yelle’s live show is less about what is said and more about what is felt. The dance party was unceasing from the stage and the floor, as both performers and audience, caught up in the moment, attempted to one-up each other. It was the give-and-take you hope to experience at every show, except this time, it was a Euro-tinged tango.