Yo La Tengo
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Yo La Tengo are the best band in the universe. Someone wrote that once, and since reading it I’ve been under the impression that everyone knew and believed this; or, at least, after seeing this show at Sydney’s Metro Theatre, that everyone in attendance was converted to this school of thought. Strangely, it made me think just how little I had actually thought about a band whose every album I’d played and played and played. Never had I questioned the real logistic of how just three people could craft a sound such as theirs; it’s a sound so dense, so perfectly realized. But look: superlatives say little. I’m just really not sure how to convey how good this show was. Of course, it was always going to be, but I have a feeling that every show of theirs is that way.
A lot of the songs played tonight were from their most recent album, _I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass_. On said record, I must say, I found the ten-minute opening track _‘Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind’_ a little repetitive, a little aimless; but tonight, rollicking along, simultaneously mechanic and human, the song’s a jam if ever there was one. I can safely use the word ‘transcendental’: a lame music writer-ism, yes, but it’s apt, and the entirety of their set was nothing short of it.
The trio make their way through a terrifically diverse range of old and new material. Every song was improved, added to, built upon from their recordings, and watching Ira Kaplan trying to tear the neck off his guitar during one song, and in the next playing it with a gentleness that was equally mind-blowing, was just incredible. They’ve such an amazing sense of dynamics; they’re ambitious, and always have been, and it’s obvious that it would come to fruition so well in a live setting.
The first of their encore’s began with the band taking requests: ‘The Race is on Again’ requested someone with good taste and good manners (with a timidly raised hand rather than a yell). Then, David Kilgour (who was brilliant as support with his band The Heavy 8s) returned to join Yo La Tengo in a cover of The Clean’s ‘Don’t Point That Thing At Me’. I pretty much lost my shit at this point, if it hadn’t already been lost along with everyone else’s around me.
Seriously, I don’t know how Yo La Tengo are so good, and I’m gushing, I know; maybe it’s practice, twenty years dedicated to perfection, but I have a feeling that they have something extremely unique and unparalleled, an insight into something. It’s true, they _do_ have it; they probably always have, and going by tonight it seems like there’s no shortage of energy and fervor for the future, too.
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