Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Yo La Tengo - The Fonda (5/9/13)

 I've let way too much time go by since my last post, so I'll do a recap of the month of May, fast and dirty. This is Part 1. Catching up with influential bands of the past thirty years has been one of the highlights of coming back to music after so long. There's lots of back story to discover and it seem to be a never ending supply. This month gave me the opportunity to discover Yo La Tengo, who played a show at The Fonda Theatre while touring their new album, Fade, on May 9.

It's hard not to feel stupid for having never heard of them before, but that's the case. Anyway, I bought the album, loved it and got a ticket for the show. As has been the case with SwervedriverPavement, My Bloody Valentine, Grandaddy and some others, they still perform at the top of their game and each show was a window into the influences that effect so many of the bands I love today.

This show was split into two acts, one with James McNew, Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan performing an acoustic set covering the quieter songs from the new album and then returning after a brief intermission to play as the Yo La Tengo full band.

I've had Fade long enough that the songs have already entered my subconscious so I was lost in a dream as they performed the beautiful and hypnotic trio of songs: "The Point of It","Cornelia and Jane" and "I'll Be Around". Even a beautiful cover of The Beach Boys'  "I Can Hear Music". I was especially happy for this format as it allowed them to play my favorite song from the album, "Ohm" twice. First as a quiet, rhythmic chant and secondly as a full-on guitar raga with a tribal beat. That song has a commanding power.

During intermission the stage was bathed in a red light as seen above. Coming back with "Stupid Things" after a break, this was the lengthier portion of the program which included many songs from earlier in their career. Songs with which I'm not yet familiar but I loved on first hearing. "Before We Run" is the Fade album closer that burrows deep down inside you as it winds down slowly to it's hushed ending that seems to scale down to a tiny spot in the center of your brain.

The audience was another one of those great Los Angeles audiences made up of a lot of musicians and dedicated music fans that brings out the best in performers. The waves of appreciation flowed back and forth between listener and artist enveloping one in it's warm glow. A towering concert.


photos by Brad Roberts