Wherein we repeat “The Story of Yo La Tango.”

Hav­ing wok­en up late for break­fast the morn­ing indie rock was served, I total­ly missed out on Yo La Ten­go. By rights, Yo La Ten­go and the Mata­dor cohort should’ve been main­stays of WDRE playlists, yet some­how they were lost in a mias­ma of Mor­ris­sey, Bel­ly and oth­er ear­ly nineties alter­na­tive rock faves. Some say that crit­ics are the art of pre­tend for­get­ful­ness, but the for­ma­tive years of crit­i­cal lis­ten­ing are often those that are most embar­rass­ing. So con­sid­er this post my mea cul­pa for being so late to the table that fate­ful day.

In short, Yo La Ten­go may be the most durable and ver­sa­tile band to ever suf­fer the “indie rock” hair­shirt. Their abil­i­ty to shift from art rock gui­tar tor­ture one moment to the Faux­town sound the next is more than a lit­tle mind­blow­ing when you con­sid­er how few bands in the genre suc­ceed at doing either.

Their show last Sat­ur­day at Philly’s once ven­er­a­ble Troc was no excep­tion. Open­ing with “Pass The Hatch­et, I Think I’m Good­kind,” the epic open­ing track to 2006’s I’m Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass, a BMIML fave that did­n’t make the year end cut, Yo La Ten­go sep­a­rat­ed wheat from chaff. Then again, I think I’ve under­es­ti­mat­ed YLT’s fan­base: you don’t stick with a band for more than twen­ty years with­out hav­ing a real thirst for the unex­pect­ed, so the tonal shift from a gui­tar work­out to the vamp­ing schtick of “Mr. Tough” comes as no sur­prise.

But per­haps the biggest part of what makes Yo La Ten­go such a spe­cial band to their fans, and what wins them new ones are their abil­i­ties as show­men. Their chem­istry both as musi­cians and as enter­tain­ers belies their pro­fes­sion­al­ism and how seri­ous­ly they take them­selves as artists. But for a band that rivals Son­ic Youth by con­sis­tent­ly pro­duc­ing excel­lent music and play­ing engag­ing per­for­mances on the road, it’s hard to imag­ine that nei­ther has become a car­i­ca­ture of itself, even if IANAOYAIWBYA may be a joke in that direc­tion. I know we’re sup­posed to be post-canon [and seem­ing­ly post-taste], but it’s unas­sum­ing bands like Yo La Ten­go who keep it alive, how­ev­er unin­ten­tion­al­ly, by defy­ing the every­thing that came to be known as indie rock.

1 reply on “Wherein we repeat “The Story of Yo La Tango.””

[…] Here’s some­thing I scrib­bled about @TheRealYLT back in 2007. It’s still so true. Need more proof? Fine. Check out these clips of a reunit­ed Pussy Galore daz­zling the crowd at Maxwell’s last week. Let’s not for­get the fact that Yo La Ten­go are still play­ing their stan­dard 8 nights while Ira recov­ers from an undis­closed ill­ness. Since I couldn’t make it to any of their shows this week, I’m lis­ten­ing to every­thing Yo La Ten­go on Spo­ti­fy. Unsur­pris­ing­ly, it’s per­fect for this week. […]