Preview: Yo La Tengo at Wonder Ballroom, October 18th and 19th
Written by Ned Tilbrook on October 14, 2021
FFO: Broken Social Scene, Built To Spill, Joan of Arc, Pavement, Dinosaur Jr.
On Monday and Tuesday, New Jersey experimental indie-rockers take to the stage at Wonder Ballroom. Yo La Tengo are a rare example of a band that has managed to stay true to a clear artistic vision over an extended period – decades, at this point – and yet retain the capacity to surprise and innovate. The band’s latest release, last year’s We Have Amnesia Sometimes, was entirely recorded with a single mic placed in the middle of the band members in order to comply with social distancing regulations. The result is a droning quality, with lightly distorted beats pushing through ambient textures to create a fresh sound. While Yo La Tengo are certainly no strangers to longer, jammier tracks, this feels like a new development and an example of restriction helping an artist towards something new.
Yo La Tengo were formed in Hoboken, New Jersey by Ira Kaplan and Georgia Hubley in 1984. They released several albums over the following few years, but it was 1993’s Painful, released the year after the band recruited bassist James McNew (who rounds out the three-piece to this day) which marked a turning point in the band’s career. With its louder and with more melodic elements cutting through the ambient sounds of earlier albums, Painful launched YLT on a trajectory of consistent artistic and critical success over the next decades. Since Painful the band have written music for soundtracks, become known for their imaginative covers both recorded and live, and, all told, released a total of seventeen studio albums.
Monday and Tuesday night promise to be special evenings for those basking in the return of live music. An set from such a renowned band will surely be a reminder of all that we have missed of late.
Photo: Noah Kalina/High Road Touring