Yeaux LA Tangeaux (Yo La Tengo) @ Tipitinas – 1/29/2011

Yeaux LA Tangeaux (Yo La Tengo) @ Tipitinas - 1/29/2011

Photo © Jimmy Grotting

Photo © Jimmy Grotting

The champions of snark put on one of the more unique and FREEWHEELING  live shows I’ve ever seen on Saturday night. I managed to go into the show with very few pre-conceived notions of what to expect from a performance besides what I have learned from listening to the band’s two brilliant records (2009’s Popular Songs and 2006’s I Am Not Afraid of You And I Will Beat Your Ass) so I was well aware that the band kinda sorta lacks a middle gear, which is totally cool (as opposed to bands like Spoon that I would describe as nearly all middle gear — again, cool with me). I just didn’t realize that lead singer Ira Kaplan doubles as a stand-up comedian, the dude is hilarious. For this tour the band is lugging around a wheel of fortune with various adjectives and phrases. Whatever the needle lands on loosely determines the theme of the night. Lead singer Ira Kaplan explained the concept to the audience, invited a girl on stage to give it a spin and it landed on Freewheeling to which Kaplan remarked that it was perfect for such a rowdy big house in New Orleans on a Saturday night (they also gave the girl a tour shirt featuring a picture of the wheel – I meant to pick one of those up, a killer shirt). As Kaplan explained, “Freewheeling” is when the band “throws caution to the wind and invites the crowd to ask questions and [the band] sees where it goes”. Set one was bare bones, stripped down and nearly inaudibly quiet at times, still thoroughly enjoyable, but paled in comparison to the epic (yes, the e-word) grandeur of the second set. Tip’s is just a tough venue for too many slow jams on a weekend night. To give an example of how the theme worked, at one point someone asked a question about Sarah Palin and the band interpreted this into a cover of The Dead C’s “Bad Politics”, a very novel and entertaining concept that I’m told the band has been doing for years.

Talking to fans outside during set break it was a mixed bag reaction to set one, as many first-timers and fans alike were feeling a bit short-changed. For me, I appreciated a band with the panache to come into Tip’s on a Saturday night and demand that kind of attention and play such an intimate, personal set on a Saturday night (heard a guy complain about the set’s lack of danceability, I told him I had a hankering that set two was gonna be a blowout). It’s rare that my groundless prognostications come true, but in this case YLT did exactly that, playing a handful of mesmerizing improvisational drones and blanketing every particle in the room with a deafening wall of sound. Songs like “And The Glitter Is Gone” and “Pass the Hatchet I Think I’m Goodkind” blurred well past the 10-15 minute range, showing the other side of Yo La Tengo. A teenage-looking kid came out to sit-in with the band for a good half hour, adding yet another layer to the already riotous noise rock beaming from the stage. After set two, I could’ve absolutely stuck it out for a third and fourth set if the adventurous trio would’ve so indulged us. Watching this whole spectacle unfold was akin to watching a painting come together, between the comedy (serving as lagniappe to a great night of music), the freewheeling theme and the unpredictability of the performance, there were just so many layers and colours to this occasion. Finally after Saturday, I am very much on board with this band that taps into so many things I love about my favorite bands (not taking themselves too seriously, improvisational wanderlust, the element of surprise with each concert). Yeaux LA Tangeaux, come back soon.

YLT is web-casting each show live on this tour on their home page through UStream, they will be appearing next on Monday in Birmingham, AL at the Workplay

January 31, 2011 |  by  |  Reviews
About the author

Wesley grew up in coastal Georgia and is a former resident of The Music City and The Big Easy where he helped get LMB NOLA off-the-ground after launching in January 2011. Over the past few years, he has also contributed steadily to JamBase and Relix Magazine. Recently, Hodges moved on to L.A. where Abita Beer is hard to find, costs about $6 if located and impromptu parading in the streets will most likely get you arrested on the spot.

 
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