One of Yo La Tengo’s most likable traits is their unapologetic fandom. The Hoboken, New Jersey-bosed trio plays music–from tender folktinged ballads to hooky indie-pop to droning noisefests–informed by an encyclopedic knowledge of rock and roll’s diversity. Their songs frequently have antecedents in the record collections of Ira Kaplan (the group’s guitar player), Georgia Hubley (drums), or James McNew (bass). Their catholic selection of cover tunes runs from the famous (Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams”) to the obscure (Information’s “Let’s Compromise”) and from the poignant (Richard and Linda Thompson’s “For Shame of Doing Wrong”) to the ridiculous (Rex Garvin’s “Emulsifled”). The band’s name reflects another kind of fandom; Spanish for “I’ve got it,” it refers to a mishap suffered by a Puerto Rican major-league outfielder, and Kaplan’s wry stage banter is as likely to touch on sports trivia or barbecue joints as it is on music. Past Yo La Tengo concerts have emphasized the extremes of their sound–from all-acoustic performances to sets dominated by withering feedback–but their new album, Painful, reflects a trend toward integration. Bolts of guitar noise are laced into the fabric of the gentlest songs, and the loudest numbers have indelible melodies. Consider seeing the band both nights–you can be sure the shows won’t be identical. The opening acts will also be different: on Saturday the Sea and Cake and Versus, and on Sunday urban hillbillies Freakwater. Saturday, 10 PM, and Sunday, 9 PM, Lounge Ax, 2438 N. Lincoln; 525-6620.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Michael Lavine.