brett//andrew//miotti


Yo La Tengo
31 January, 2011, 2:32 pm
Filed under: Music

Until three days ago, I would’ve called myself a casual Yo La Tengo fan. No longer. On Friday night, my girlfriend Samantha and I saw the band perform at the Variety Playhouse in Atlanta. I think it’s a sign of a great show when you’re still thinking about it three days later. And so… I think I’m developing a serious crush on Yo La Tengo.

In their over-25-year career, the band always seems to have such a passion for their craft in addition to a reverence for the music that has preceded them. If not releasing albums full of covers they also seem to throw in subtle winks and nudges at rock ‘n’ roll’s history within their own material. In turn, they’ve probably inspired countless other musical acts themselves. The fact that they’re still cranking out quality records is quite impressive.

In regards to Friday night’s show, it’s even more impressive how easily they can cull from their immense discography. For this tour the band decided to let their first set of each night’s performance be decided by the spin of a wheel, a la Wheel of Fortune (the tv show’s theme music played as the band took the stage). There were several categories that would establish the direction of that first set. One being “S Songs” – songs from the band’s oeuvre that started with the letter “S”, to which the band claims could easily amount to over 45 minutes of music. We got “Sounds Of Science, Part 2” (the second half of the band’s score for filmmaker Jean Painleve’s underwater documentaries and shorts. A bit meandering and abstract for some, but it really showcased the band’s ability to do more than just write great pop songs or scorching rockers.

For the second set we were treated to a slew of gems from the YLT pantheon. Starting with “Autumn Sweater” and running through personal faves like “Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1),” “Today is the Day (EP Version)” and “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind.” This was followed by an encore featuring “We’re An American Band” (their own composition), followed appropriately by a cover of GFR’s “We’re An American Band” and ending with a mellow reading of “Big Day Coming.”

I was in awe of the band’s musicianship, their energy and their connection to their audience. It was loud, it was delicate and it was beautiful. It was a perfect show. It made me reminisce about playing music myself. Ultimately, I think that’s why the showed impressed me so much and why I’m such a huge fan now. Yo La Tengo remind me of why I love music.

Bonus points, because the band were selling coffee mugs at their merch table.

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