Yo La Tengo: Thus Spoke Zarathustra

Yo La Tengo

The Fillmore

San Francisco, CA

October 20, 2006

The Yo Report

What is the tipping point? When does a show reach critical mass so that
you walk out. If you like only 40% of the songs? 30%? 20%? What if
you like the studio efforts but the live efforts are but a hollow
resemblance of what you hear at home? Do you stick it out? What if
your ears hurt?

These questions floated in and out of my head Friday night with only
brief interludes of genuine enjoyment at the Yo La Tengo show. I have a
dozen mp3s of which I regard highly enough so that when I read a
critical review saying Tengo was the real deal, I was interested enough
to purchase tickets and venture into the great unknown. But this turned out to be only further proof that music critics have no idea what they are talking about.

The End of History
This may all sound a little harsh since there were times when I thought
the band was in new territory, that was also melodic and enjoyable to
listen to. But that was inevitably followed by 10 minutes of
screeching, pointless psychedelic guitar hammering, with Tengo's
guitarist nearly doubled over, his back to the crowd, jumping up and
down. Which left me wondering if this is, like Fukiyama's The End of
History, The End Of Music. Frankly, I couldn't wait to get home to
listen to Mozart's piano sonatas- just to remind myself that there is
still beauty and hope in the world and that anger, despair, anarchy, and
nihilism are passing adolescent expressions of angst.

It is like my never-ending hope that one day the political process may
produce a just and compassionate society. Waiting patiently for
MidTerms, a bit like Waiting for Guffman. Perhaps foolish pipe dreams
and you may say, J-Man, you're the consummate cynic, you know there is no
Guffman- but at the root of every cynic is the kernel of hope that the
world may right itself in the future- hopefully while I am still alive
to see it. And with Yo La Tengo, there remains some hope that they will
right themselves and realize that noise, no matter how satisfying to the
teenager in all of us, is not music.

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