Yo La Tengo at Velvet Jones

Yo La Tengo

Venue: Velvet Jones in Santa Barbara

Drinks: A Newcastle and a Stella Artois.

Song I Most Wanted to Hear: I didn't really have a dog in this race because while I am a Yo La Tengo fan, I have only dipped my toe in their discography at this point (even having logged 200+ plays in LastFM). However, I have recently become a huge John Cale fan and I was thrilled when they pulled off a soft cover of "Hanky Panky Nohow" from Cale's PARIS 1919. Then Yo La Tengo came out for a second encore and my friend Tom loudly suggest that they play "Griselda," a HAVE MOICY! cover from FAKEBOOK which the band agreed that they wanted to play: "Once someone yells out 'Griselda' there really isn't much of a choice after that." More on that later.

Musical Disappointments: It was great seeing Yo La Tengo at such a small venue but the venue layout left much to be desired. I had to keep moving during this show to try to get both a good look at the band and ideal sound quality unencumbered by chatter from the back bar. I spent time at the bar, then upstairs in the 18+ area, then back by the bar, then on the front steps near the stage, then nestled right next to the bathroom (which is right next to the stage and provides a great view of the show).

How Was the Crowd: Like last week's Pavement show, this one was a much older crowd than usual and had quite a few gray beards rocking shirts for celebrated bands of the 90s like Guided By Voices, Sonic Youth (including me) and The Gun Club. It was also a notably talkative bunch that became anything but hushed when Yo La decided to play a slower, sleepier number.

Superficial/General Impression on Singer's Appearance: Ira Kaplan looks like Albert Brooks circa DEFENDING YOUR LIFE. It's very odd to see someone who looks like Brooks be something of a guitar god.

Merch Table: Three different shirts which all had pretty cool designs. They also had four CDs and a limited pressed vinyl ADVENTURELAND score. I picked up that vinyl and the red t-shirt which replicated some of its coverart but with YOLATENGO over an amusement park ride.

Run-in's With the Bands: Ira came out after the show and my friend Tom thanked him for taking his request and playing Michael Hurley's "Griselda" which caused Ira some music nerd discomfort. Ira said "That's not Michael Hurley, it's Peter Stempfel." I butted in saying it was basically the Holy Modal Rounders and Ira agreed "It's from HAVE MOICY! which is terrific." To which we could all agree. (It's actually written by Antonia, the sometime writer of Holy Modal Rounder songs) I then had Ira sign my vinyl and thanked him for the good show. He didn't say much after that. Slightly more talkative was James McNew, who also signed my vinyl and noted that they never play the John Cale or the Antonia songs live and seemed like a very nice guy, he pointed out drummer Georgia when she came out from backstage and I got her to sign my vinyl but with a minimum of exchanged words, I thanked her and she thanked me back.

Best Onstage Moment, Non-Musical: Ira would occasionally step back to help out his wife on drums and when he did he would drum intentionally in her way causing her to hit his hand with her drumstick and then shoot him a dirty look.

Best Onstage Chatter: Apparently the Santa Barbara show was long put-off. Ira said, "We promised that we would refuse to play Santa Barbara until Jeff Bridges won the oscar. So here we are."

Did the Bass Player Look Bored?: Not bored. He jammed and flicked that bass with a good deal of enthusiasm. He also played other instruments.

Overall Scientific Rating of Show (out of ten): 7.6

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