Yo La Tengo @ El Rey 02/23/11
Yo La Tengo is the band that keeps on giving. Since forming in the early 80s, Ira Kaplan (guitars, piano, vocals), Georgia Hubley (drums, piano, vocals), and James McNew (bass, vocals) have done pretty much everything a band can do and then some: Record amazing music (I suggest Electr-O-Pura, I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, and And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside-Out as introduction), cover amazing music (Fakebook, Yo La Tengo Is Murdering the Classics), compose amazing music for movies (The Sounds of the Sounds of Science, Junebug, Game 6, Shortbus, Old Joy), create amazing side projects (Dump, Condo Fucks), and, of course, perform...amazingly.
For me, the Yo La Tengo live show experience is what completes and extends the studio work, breathing new life into already solid and sweeping songs. Before Wednesday's show, I was lucky to have seen them rock San Francisco's Fillmore in the late 90s; it seems that YLT haven't aged (nor have their songs) in twenty years. I'd wager they've gotten better with time, and certainly more playful. Dividing the El Rey show into two sets, the first involved a giant wheel of different tasks, spun by a random audience member. It was fate that brought us Sitcom Theater, an entire live reading of a Spongebob Squarepants episode - it could have easily been a set by Condo Fucks (although Kaplan warned the wheel had never landed on it), songs that began with the letter "S", cover songs, or songs from their soundtracks.
The second set was all favorites, with crowd-pleasing shenanigans like playing Tom Courtenay into a frenetic Blue Line Swinger and killing the entire audience, or a completely stripped down and haunting rendition of Black Flowers. They are remarkable and beloved, and as fan remarked, YLT is worth seeing again, and again, and again.