On their way out to play the Chinati Foundation annual event in Marfa, TX, Yo La Tengo stopped in Austin for a packed show at Emo’s. They haven’t played a venue this small in Austin since I began seeing them in 1994, so it was somewhat momentous.
My recently joined-at-the-hip concert buddy Amy and I arrived a bit late to the show and mercifully missed opener Jad Fair’s set. Jad’s artwork is cool, but his music is rather bad. It’s entertaining for a couple songs, then gets progressively more annoying as it goes on.
Yo La Tengo played a good show, but not as great as many I’ve seen before. This is at least partly because I’m a bit jaded about seeing them perform sprawling, mesmerizing versions of “Blue Line Swinger” and "From A Motel 6", but also due to the bland Extend-O-Jams in which they indulged at times. Still, it was enjoyable.
Ira explained that they had recently played at a friend’s wedding and so had learned a bunch of covers, hence the large number of unfamiliar songs they played. I’m not enough of a music wonk to identify them all, but there was a Zombies cover, a Sun Ra cover (not “Nuclear War”), and a song dedicated to Sterling Morrison (ex-Velvet Underground).
They also brought Jad Fair out to perform some songs off their collaborative album. It was a much needed blast of fast, rocking numbers that invigorated the show even after Jad left the stage.
The best part of the show was when Ira noted that Henry Rollins had done a spoken word show in Austin a couple of nights ago. In honor of this, James gave a dramatic reading from one of Henry’s books.
A friend and I were discussing the cost versus the length of the show. We decided that at $0.17 a minute, it was worth it. Then went on to talk about the possibility of a band peep-show booth concept where you keep pumping in quarters as long as you’re enjoying the show. My friend was taken with the idea that the band had to keep on playing as long as you had the quarters, possibly leading to exhaustion of known songs and the spectre of amphetamine abuse.
Right after this conversation, I noticed the guy in front of us with “Jesus is Lord” tattooed on the back of his neck in big block letters. Huh. If he’s serious, I can’t imagine that this would endear you to fellow Christians and prospective employers. If he’s not serious, I… Dude! An ironic “Jesus is Lord” tattoo on your neck?!
More photos of the show and a Yo La Tengo video game.
Tags: Yo La Tengo, Jad Fair, Henry Rollins, Jesus is Lord Lawn & Garden