Thursday February 1, 2007

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo at Studio A last night, their first show in Miami in 22 years. Endless noisy jams interspersed with quiet numbers, eccentric covers, and extreme musicality are I guess to be expected from Yo La; the big surprise for me was that yes, three people play almost all the parts you hear on the records live. On “Sugarcube” for example, James played keyboard bass with one hand and shakers with the other, with Georgia on drums and Ira on guitar (he was also great on keyboards off and on throughout the night).

The high points early in the set were “Little Eyes,” and a hornless but still funky “Mr. Tough,” during which I’m pleased to report that there was even some (ironic?) dancing. The crowd was great, by the way. Kudos to Studio A for managing the event really well — anyone who showed up before 8 pm got in, probably because they packed in enough people to possibly violate fire codes, but not enough that anyone was uncomfortable. Good balance, well done.

Yo La Tengo

Ira serves up another bottomless bowl of whoop-ass. On more then one occasion he concluded a guitar freakout by setting down a still reverberating guitar with broken and detuned strings, only to pick up his other guitar and seamlessly segue into the next song. (His guitar tech would then frantically restring and tune.) He also worked in a dig at New Times about this, and took advantage of the opportunity to slip an Indianapolis-based cover into the set (it registered as vaguely familiar, but I’ve no idea what it was).

The first encore included a we’re-slightly-over-this-song version of “Autumn Sweater” (James on snare and shakers, Georgia on drumkit, Ira on Farfisa organ (obviously hauled around specifically for this song), once again coming dangerously close to the dense sound of the original recording) and the final encore concluded with their now-famous cover of “I Found a Reason.” My one gripe was the absence of any of the great mellow songs from And Then Nothing, but what can you do. Maybe in another 22 years.

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  1. Shawn    Thu Feb 1, 09:16 AM #  

    I would like to disagree with only one comment – “The crowd was great, by the way.” The crowd was awful. I don’t know where you were standing but where I was all I could hear was loud talking which drowned out the music. And I wasn’t even at the bar. Sadly this is my experience at many many many many South Florida shows.

  2. alesh    Thu Feb 1, 10:23 AM #  

    Around the middle of the show there were a few quiet moments where I wished a few people would shut the fuck up. After that I sort of ended up right in front of the stage where that wasn’t really a problem.

    I’m sort of surprised that Yo La’s playing clubs at this stage in their career; they could have easily filled a theater, and I think their music would have been more appropriate to that environment. And it would have kept the audience a little more focused.

  3. Charles R    Thu Feb 1, 11:34 AM #  

    The crowd also got on my nerves last night during the quieter songs, but Yo La Tengo thankfully blew them away on the louder numbers.

    This was not the case during a Cat Power show back in the Fall, which was utterly ruined by the chatter from the bar and even the club managers gossping behind me in the VIP area.

    I had sworn off ever going back there, but for Yo La Tengo I gave them another chance. I had such a better experience I’ll return, but that chatter is still annoying.

  4. travis    Thu Feb 1, 04:20 PM #  

    from alesh: “I’m sort of surprised that Yo La’s playing clubs at this stage in their career; they could have easily filled a theater”

    true, but i honestly hate theater band shows. you totally lose the feeling of personal involvement that small club shows produce. i also think a lot of bands want to keep personal involvement as an element of their performances so they keep with it even after many many years of shows.

  5. Lolo    Tue Feb 6, 02:14 PM #  

    It needs to be mentioned that Ira introducing their cover of T.Rex’s “Jeepster” as a classic Jewish folk song was f’ing hilarious.