David Knight - 15th June 2011

Seeing Hoboken's finest Yo La Tengo play Ray Davies's Meltdown in London last Sunday (June 12), has prompted this little tribute to a band that have never made too many memorable videos, but are nevertheless truly great - especially live.

At the Festival Hall on Sunday they were brilliant, with their usual combination of haunting melodies, and appropriately ear-melting noise-jams, and also played an opening set (after the spinning of a Wheel Of Fortune that included the options 'Sitcom Theatre' and 'Songs beginning with S') as their psychedelic-garage alter-egos the Condo Fucks.

Yo La Tengo are Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew. Ira (mainly guitar) and Georgia (mainly drums) have been going for over 25 years (and married to each other almost as long). James, the relative newcomer, joined on bass about 20 years ago.

They've recorded 12 proper albums (they're all excellent, standouts being Painful, I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One and the recent Popular Songs), and lots of other stuff, including the OSTs for movies such as Junebug and Adventureland. They have been likened to the Velvet Underground in their time, and indeed played the band in the movie I Shot Andy Warhol.

Here's an early (and possibly the first) video of theirs, for The Summer from their 1989 album Fakebook (yes, Fakebook), when they were just Ira and Georgia. It's a lovely video - very indie old school - directed by Phil Morrison.


James joined in 1992, and they made Painful shortly afterwards - which includes the fantastic From A Motel 6. This is the video, directed by Hal Hartley (whatever happened to him). Its very good.


This is their rather satirical (and prophetic) video for Sugarcube, from I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One. An unusually ambitious YLT video, they go to rock school - quite a long time before Richard Linklater and Jack Black made School Of Rock.


But you kind of have to see YLT play live to really appreciate their awesomeness. Fan videos don't really come close to capturing the hypnotic atmosphere of when they're engaged in a massive twenty minute wigout that still manages to be more punk than prog rock. But this one, of them performing Deeper Into Movies in Atlanta a couple of years ago is pretty damn good (apart from when the cameraman starts to film the audience).

And here's them performing the jaunty Mr Tough for a radio broadcast...

Finally here's the video for Periodically Double Or Triple from their most recent album Popular Songs - the second in a series of four clips for the album by John McSwain. This one is bit fruity. Viva Yo La Tengo!


David Knight - 15th June 2011

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