October 1, 2006

That Was The Show That Was: Yo La Tengo

Yo La Tengo's Ira Kaplan, Sept. 28, Avalon, Boston -- photo courtesy Ric Dube[We are pleased to welcome to the electric pages of :: clicky clicky :: friend and former editor Ric Dube, a man who critiqued our writing into the good shape it was in six years ago, a shape we continually strive to regain. Dr. Dube is the most devoted Yo La Tengo fan we know (this is a man who convinced the band to move "Shadows" from the key of A to A-flat), and as such we solicited his assistance in the form of this review of the band's Sept. 28 performance at Boston's Avalon. -- Ed.]

Subtitle: An Evening of Music and Cleaning Up After Themselves

There’s an episode of "The Simpsons" where Principal Skinner greets an auditorium full of families by saying, "Welcome to an evening of theatre and cleaning up after yourselves!" Whether the band would ever admit it or not, Yo La Tengo’s third show in support of I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, carried the air of a band eager to 1) welcome the crowd to an evening of music and 2) pretend 2003 never happened. The immediate post-9/11 world, the thick of the Bush era, disastrous Mets and Knicks teams -– who really knows why Summer Sun was such a disappointing record? But when a band’s record is bland it affects its performances -- especially if they draw heavily from it to build a set.

In contrast, ...Beat Your Ass is a fine record, and promises to support current shows well, as it did in Boston, beginning logically with the monstrous "Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind" [MP3 -- right click and save as]; when being joined by guest horn players on "Mr. Tough" and "Beanbag Chair" [MP3 -- right click and save as]; when weirdly revealing a Sticky Fingers essence to "I Feel Like Going Home;" when breezing through the easygoing "The Race Is on Again" and "The Weakest Part;" when tearing through the instant classic punk anthem "Watch Out for Me Ronnie;" and during the 12-plus minutes of "The Story of Yo La Tango" as part of the stretch of noisy tunes Yo La Tengo has used for years to comprise the second half of its show.

This performance was similar to ones following Summer Sun in that it emphasized a lot of piano-based songs and gentler guitar tunes. But this time out the songs are stronger and the band seems happier and more confident. “Now that’s edu-tainment!” -- Ric Dube

[You can view :: clicky clicky's :: pics of the Yo La Tengo show here]

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