As the lone West Coaster of this quartet, it is appropriate that I write my first post about my recent foray to the Fillmore–as in West, although I am not sure there is an East any longer–to see Yo La Tengo.
I do love the Tengo, and this was my third time seeing them, so armed with my buds Michele and Leslie, we first gobbled down noodles at the Japan Center, then trucked up the street to the Auditorium.
I have to confess that though I am a big fan, and probably own six or seven of the band’s albums, I don’t really know the names of the bulk of Yo La Tengo’s tunes. I do say that “Painful” and “New Wave Hotdog/President Yo La Tengo” are my faves, but even then I might recognize the tunes, but forget the names.
Unlike the other two Tengo shows I witnessed, this time the troika of players did a great 35 minute acoustic set to start (as I turn into a cranky old man, almost worthy of shaking my fist at the neighborhood youngins screaming, “you kids stay outta my yard, it is clear to me that I don’t really care about the opening act, and there was none this time save acoustic Tengo) featuring “Two Trains,” and finishing the seven tune min set with a lovely “No Water.”
Ira announced a short break and all the ear splitting stuff was set up while Leslie, Michele, and I found a couple of friends and hung out by the bar, and by 10 PM the Tengo were back on stage, serious shit strapped on.
The electric set featured just a killer version of the ever sweet “Nowhere Near” and a driving “Stockholm Syndrome,” plus “The Story of Yo La Tengo” along with ten other pop-laced tunes that built and drove into the bands familiar wall of noise.
During the final cut of the set, “Electric,” Michele pulled out her IPhone and started to record. When the song ended, I asked “Did you actually record some of that cacophony?” She nodded saying, “It was pure noise,” and, I responded with “Yeah, but it was in tune and in time noise. That is what makes them so terrific.”
To which I got another nod.
The band came back and to my joy started their encore with “Drug Test,” easily my favorite song within their catalog (and one I do know the title of) and came back with “Nervous Breakdown,” and then a softer cover of “Yellow Sarong” which was great, but during which James, the bass player’s amp started in with its own decibels.
After the tune, James unplugged, and plugged his bass in a couple of times to see the source of the problem, looked at Ira, and Ira shrugged and said, “Well, I guess that is it.”
It was. But all in tune, and in time.