Despite being a band for going on 30 years now, my personal exposure to Yo La Tengo has actually been quite limited. Here’s what I do know.
– Based on my three years of high school spanish, I think that their band name means something to the effect of “I have”, with some sort of feminine quality to it.
– Their seminal album I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One was a constant staple in my buddy’s car in high school.
– “From a Motel 6”, “Our Way to Fall”, and “More Starts Than There Are in Heaven” have each made their way on to a mix tape of mine at one point or another.
– Their new album Fade has crossed the 20 listen mark on my Itunes library.
The aforementioned talking facts, topped with a date at the great Asheville venue the Orange Peel was more than enough for me to go spend my Saturday night rocking with the Hoboken Indie Rock mainstays.
Sans opening band, Yo La Tengo played two sets – in effect opening for themselves with an acoustic set before bursting into a full blown rock and roll set in Act II . The acoustic set showcased the benefits of being a band with the same lineup for 20+ years, sans the screaming guitars or drum sticks to hide behind the harmonies could be heard in their perfectly crafted glory. In between tunes, frontman Ira Kaplan kept things interesting, doing his best Al Franken complimenting a light and happy bunch of tunes.
When the band opened with the new album standout “Ohm” in the acoustic set, I was admittedly pretty bummed as I was ready to hear it in the experimental fashion that I have become accustom to – luckily we got a reprise in set two which more than satisfied. While the acoustic set did a fine job setting the table, the crowd came alive when the distortion pedals started howling. The last hour of the show was like a trip into the outer space of Rock and Roll – mixing old favorites with new tunes from Fade in all of their sonic glory.
The band both set it up, and knocked it down in what was a great night of music in a wonderful city. As the veteran three-piece continues touring behind their great new album, I will be going to work on expanding my list of things I know about Yo La Tengo.