Monday, January 21, 2008

Live Review:
Yo La Tengo - Springfield, MO - 1/18/08

Review by Ryan Bonacker

Photos/Video by Nicole Pope

I love going to Yo La Tengo shows. Last Saturday's show was my fifth, and it did not disappoint in any way. One of the reasons - hell, maybe the reason - I love seeing this band so much is that even if you know what to expect, you never know exactly what you're going to get.

The show was the final stop on the Freewheeling tour, and even though I expected a mellower, Storytellers- type affair, I was pleasantly surprised by just how varied the show was. With absolutely no keys of any type (organ, electric piano), no bass drum (and Georgia only using brushes, no less) and only one (one!) acoustic guitar to Ira's name, I figured the band had planned a nice acoustic set with spaces to tell stories intermittently throughout the set. I wasn't too far off. There was no real "set" planned out, just a beginning and an end, with songs written down to perform in case the requests weren't creating a spark (which they did, more on that in a moment). In between songs, the band would field questions and requests from the audience, though most of the questions weren't exactly answered. Instead, the band dished out humorous quips and anecdotes on topics ranging from the "Sugarcube" video shoot to talking to Steve Albini on the phone (and not believing it was really him).

But I'll be honest, I didn't go for the Q&A, I went for the music. And as long as I'm being honest, I'll admit that I'm a much bigger fan of Yo La's distorted, shoegaze-y material, at least in the live setting. With that said, I have to say that hearing many of the night's songs stripped down to their barest essentials was quite spellbinding. Whether it was an already low-key number like "Let's Save Tony Orlando's House" or a the fuzzy "Decora," the band proved that they could create a stunning, gorgeous atmosphere with even the most minimal of tricks.

Though I'm sure a handpicked set by the band would have been wonderful, I'm convinced the audience requests are what made the music portion of the show as interesting as it was. Thanks to the audience, we were treated to classic Yo La Tengo ("Sugarcube"), some off the beaten tracks ("Upside-Down" from May I Sing With Me, which I believe marks the first time I've heard them play a song from that album), and many covers (including an excellent take on the Kinks' "Tired of Waiting for You"). The highlight of the night, however, was their rendition of "Blue Line Swinger," another audience request. Clean and stripped down at first, the song could have been performed simply as a gentle lullaby, but instead Ira hit the distortion pedal at just the right time, giving the audience a taste of the song as we know and love it. It was magic, like only a band as creative and talented as them could do. Already I'm looking forward to Yo La Tengo concert number 6, even if I have no idea what's in store.

"Blue Line Swinger"


"????" "Fog Over Frisco"

Femme Fatale says: Anyone who can tell me what this last song is, automatically earns the title of "Bigger Yo La Tengo Fan Than Me." Get to it!


Hackworth Artifex said...

Well I won't earn the title, but the audience participation aspect sounds interesting.

I've seen the opposite happen a lot where the band on stage will all but ignore the audience.

Girlfriend said...

Nicole - I love the videos. Its almost like I was there... Remind me to stay away from Africa the next time YLT is playing. Thanks.

Girlfriend said...

Sonicryan says it best in the beginning of the first clip...
"Oh, yes!"

Femme Fatale said...

And the winner of the "Bigger Yo La Tengo Fan Than Me" contest is YouTuber "grandaddy2006" for correctly identifying the unknown song as "Fog Over Frisco" from the 1996 album "Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo." Fantastic!!

Femme Fatale said...

Julie Christie, the rumors are true.... You just earned an Oscar nomination for best actress.

I'd never even heard of this woman until "Tom Courtenay."

Anonymous said...

Hey, thanks for these! I'm the one that requested Fog Over Frisco. Guess what, your blog is where I first learned of this show. Good on you!

SonicRyan said...

Of course it's from Genius + Love = Yo La Tengo, the only album I don't have...