Note to self: Never forget the night of 10 April, because it’s the night you went to indie rock heaven.
Before I get to the part where I start gibbering and spluttering, I should begin by doing what I can manage coherently.
Right, so the Yo La Tengo (gibber, splutter) gig was last night. The supporting acts were Sue Garner & Rick Brown and Broadcast. I’ll start with them.
I’d never heard of Sue Garner & Rick Brown before, but was very pleasantly surprised. Imagine Sarah McLachlan’s voice singing with Ani DiFranco’s attitude accompanied by Sonic Youth remixed by Tortoise. Kinda like that. I’m definitely going to look around for their album.
Broadcast, which I had heard of, were extremely disappointing. In terms of presentation they were far slicker than Sue Garner & Rick Brown, but their music paled in comparison. Maybe I’m just a nitpicky classical musician, but when the melody line is the same as the bass line and all other accompanying lines, the song sounds boring. I only realized last night how right that particular rule of SATB (soprano alto tenor bass) music theory was – about avoiding a situation where the different elements of harmony carry the same tune such that you’re basically hearing the same tune simultaneously over a couple of octaves.
Quite often, they’d be constructing this interesting soundscape, and then their lead singer would start singing, and I’d get pissed off. For one thing, the melody was usually boring, as I’ve said. Another thing was that her voice reminded me of the Corrs, which meant it blended so effortlessly into the background that I forgot I’d ever heard it. And then almost all the songs seemed to involve her singing “Aaaaaaaaaaaah” and swaying from side to side and then going “Lalalalalalala etc.” I can’t really describe it in writing, but it really was immensely irritating. Which is a pity, because other than her singing, and the melody she was singing, the rest of their music was reasonably interesting, especially towards the end of their set where they started going a bit wild with squealing feedback and dissonance and thunderous drums.
And now we come to Yo La Tengo. Oh. My. God. I’ll just abandon all pretence of being cool and cynical and laid back now, and say that it was one of the most amazing gigs I’ve ever been to, probably second only to Sonic Youth, and second only because Sonic Youth are very slightly more charismatic as performers.
Yo La Tengo: Thank you. Thank you for alternately rawking and whispering your way through the show, and being equally compelling for each. Thank you for taking Blue Line Swinger and making it into an expandable universe both screaming and serene even better than you did on the record – it must have been at least 15 minutes long but I was entranced. Thank you for effortlessly switching instruments and kicking ass with whatever you picked up. Thank you especially Georgia (BRILLIANT drumming) for doing that while looking sweet and dumpy and motherly and nothing like the rock star you are – and forgive me if I ever meet you in a small-town supermarket and don’t recognize you while we both stock up on drain cleaner or something equally domestic. Thank you for responding to our clapping, stomping and screaming by coming back out twice to play encores.
Thank you for your beautiful noise.