A cursory scan of New Jersey’s famous sons and daughter’s reads like a who’s list of awesomeness: Frank Sinatra, the Boss, Jack Nicholson, Tara from Songs Hotbox Harry Taught Us, and of course, Yo La Tengo.*
One of the many cool things of Yo La Tengo is their multi-faceted-ness (?) in a live setting. When I first saw them, about six years ago in DC, the band – and Ira in particular – put on a guitar pyrotechnic clinic. Of course, it wasn’t your silly Eddie Van Halen schmaltzy pyrotechnics, but rather that unique, jagged, white noise, Tom Verlaine, molten lava, sheets-of-sound aural cavalcade that Ira has mastered. T’was like a white-hot emerald green meteor shower of sonic space debris!
So, prior to their show here last April – the annual benefit concert for the non-profit Henry Miller Library (you can buy the limited-edition poster at our online store!) – I was running around like a crazed cult member prior to the arrival of his meek, curly haired guru: “Oh, just you wait! Ira’s gonna melt your face! It’s like a white-hot emerald green meteor showers of sonic space debris!” My speech as clipped and my eyes were crazed. I only settled down after my co-worker slipped some barbiturates into my kombucha.
So imagine my embarrassment when YLT opted, instead, for their pensive “interstellar space lounge” set instead! Oh man! You never can tell, can you?
And that’s why YLT is one of the best bands, like, ever. Their diversity. The show on that cool April evening did not call for interstellar guitar-war. The mood was mellow. The Christmas light were illuminating the mighty redwoods. The movie screen was awash in surrealistic…movie-type things. So the band switched gears and played placid, contemplative, moody, Hoboken two a.m., loft soundtrack music. And it worked just great. Check it:
Every now and then during the set Ira’s the inner guitar god would slip to the surface, but it was only a simmer, never a boil, much less a sear. We only got a taste. But, to paraphrase Smoky Robinson, sometimes a “taste of white-hot emerald green meteor showers of sonic space debris is better than none at all.”
* I am morally obligated to refrain from any “Jersey Shore” references, so don’t even think about going there.