Yo La Tengo is now 2 for 2 in the category of shows I have seen which rocked above and beyond the call of duty. It’s always a pleasure to see them live, mostly for the simple fact that you can easily tell that they love the music and that making it comes so naturally to them. You just can’t watch Ira pummeling out such impressive layers of sound without thinking “Hey, there’s a guy that really enjoys what he’s doing.”
Listening to Yo La Tengo albums, I typically gravitate more towards the mellower tracks, so whenever I see them live it’s always kind of a shift to remember that they do rock out, and quite frequently. Their live shows add so much more to their noisier tracks . Songs that may not have seemed quite as compelling on the album become spellbinding squeedly guitar maelstroms when they play them live. For example, they stuck a good several minutes of guitar freakout into the middle of their version of “Little Honda”, and that’s a Beach Boys song fer crying out loud.
The set list was pretty heavily focused on their most recent album, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, naturally. As great as that album is, I kind of missed the more expansive list they played last time I saw them when they weren’t touring on a new album. They worked in several songs from Fakebook, which was great but I was definitely surprised that they didn’t play “Cherry Chapstick”, “Sugarcube”, or “You Can Have It All”. Acoustic versions of “Tom Courtenay” and “Autumn Sweater” (video) helped balance that out though. At first I was a little disappointed that they didn’t close with “Blue Line Swinger”, which they did an awesome 15 minute version of to close last time they were in town but after the last ringing echoes of the blissful fuzz of “The Story of Yo La Tango” died out I realized that it was just as good, if not better.