Yeah Yeah Yeahs Make History Atop Empire State Building With 'Despair' (Video)

The band has become the first act to film a performance on the skyscraper's observation deck.
Adam Kissick
Karen O performing at SXSW

The Yeah Yeah Yeahs have become the first band to film a music video atop the Empire State Building.

In fact, they were also the first act to receive prior approval to perform on the skyscraper's observation deck.

The band filmed the video for their song "Despair," off their album Mosquito, from 2 a.m. until just after sunrise 86 floors above Manhattan, according to The New York Times.

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“It’s definitely not just another cool day in the life of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs,” lead singer Karen O told The Times. “It was definitely an iconic moment. It’s hard to do something like that and not to feel like it’s symbolic – it’s like the American dream for us, singing your song on top of the Empire State Building, feeling like: man, where were we 10 years ago, when we were sitting around in some punk rock dive bar, thinking about what to name our band, and New York City, and now here we are at the top. It really felt dreamlike.”

For the head of Malkin Holdings, the Empire State Building operator, it's about time someone filmed a music video up there.

“The way I look at it is, why hadn’t this been done before?” Anthony Malkin said. “Credit to them for having the gumption to ask.”

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Other groups had approached the building's managers to shoot there but only the Yeah Yeah Yeahs withstood the organization's review of the lyrics and the video treatment, according to The Times.

The narrow deck forced the director to also use a helicopter to shoot the band's performance.

The shoot was reportedly a closely guarded secret, but you can see what happened in the video below.