March 19, 2023

Yo La Tengo played Brooklyn Steel

The immortal Yo La Tengo brought their latest tour to Brooklyn Steel for a hometown show that was full of life, some of their greatest hits, and truly immaculate covers.

One of the best parts about Yo La Tengo is their range as a band. As a mighty trio, they can play everything from achingly gorgeous ballads to loud noisy jams full of blissed-out feedback and on their latest tour, they've brought it all into the mix. On a lovely Saturday evening, Ira, James, and Georgia came to Brooklyn and played two incendiary sets that honed in on their strengths and once again confirmed their status as one of the best in this country to ever do it. The night opened with the lead track from their latest, and most excellent new record This Stupid World, "Sinatra Drive Breakdown" and it delivered on the deep, groovy sentiments that brought forth some of their louder moments before settling into more of their ambient jams. As Ira said hello several songs into their set, he explained that the majority of their set so far had consisted of new tracks and the next ones would as well. "Until It Happens" was another glowing number that led into the sublime "Aselestine." Georgia remained behind the kit for this one, but her lead vocals immediately put her front and center of the song and proved its rank as one of the year's best tracks. It was a crystalline rendition that hit like crushed felt, giving off warm tones and celestial comfort. Finally, the band took a dip back into their deeper catalogue for the back-to-back sensations of "The Crying of Lot G" and "Nowhere Near," both of which radiated more pristine moments full of warm fuzz and enchanting melodies, the first seeing Ira change up the vocal delivery just a tad to make it new and exciting while the later reinforced their gentle and blossoming talents that shone with everlasting promise. After a quick break, the band returned for a second set and cranked things up and into full gear. Once again starting with a new number, this time the self-titled track from the new album, before going straight for the hits. "Moby Octopad" into "Stockholm Syndrome" was another extraordinary experience in which Ira ripped things to shreds both on guitar and organ, proving his dexterity while the impeccable rhythm section of Georgia and James kept things perfectly composed. It's never anything but remarkable to see such a dynamic trio continue to establish themselves as true pioneers and living legends of their scene, their years of playing together making it seem so effortless and also like watching magic before your very eyes. "Fallout" was another righteous jam, but it was the buzzing "Autumn Sweater" with both Georgia and James on drums that sealed the night as one for the ages as the crowd melted for the divine track that somehow felt even more majestic live than I could've imagined. To cap things off, the band unleashed the brilliant run of  "Double Dare" which once again saw Ira absolutely crush some killer solos, followed by the lovely "Ohm," before the grand finale of the epic closer "Blue Line Swinger" which stretched on for great lengths and climaxed with a near perfect jam of what the band does best. It's wild to think that Yo La Tengo could perhaps simultaneously be one of the best cover bands in addition to one with some of the strongest original material as well and for their encore they paid tribute to their native New York while sealing the deal on that first statement with a slew of covers by some of the city's greatest acts. "Dreaming" was an electric and compelling number that gave the crowd one last chance to break out some dance moves before the night finally came to a close with an absolutely astounding cover of the Velvet Underground's "Sunday Morning." With Georgia on vocals and James and Ira keeping guard on strings, they blew away the room and got one of their loudest receptions of the night. It was an incredibly powerful moment and to see one of the best American bands of the last forty years honor one of the best from the '60s was surreal and touching beyond belief.

Set list: 

01 "Sinatra Drive Breakdown"
02 "Tonight’s Episode"
03 "Swing for Life"
04 "Until It Happens"
05 "Aselestine"
06 "The Crying of Lot G"
07 "Nowhere Near"
08 "Deeper Into Movies" [quiet version]
09 "Miles Away"
10 "This Stupid World"
11 "Moby Octopad"
12 "Stockholm Syndrome"
13 "Shades of Blue"
14 "Fallout"
15 "The Story of Jazz"
16 "Autumn Sweater"
17 "Double Dare"
18 "Ohm"
19 "Blue Line Swinger"
20 "Let's Compromise" (Vital Information cover)
21 "Dreaming" (Blondie cover)
22 "Sunday Morning" (The Velvet Underground cover)

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