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Yo La Tengo Treats Tucson to Two Sets! | Rialto Theater, 2/14/24

Show Lineup: Yo La Tengo

Genre(s): Noise, Alt, Indie, Folk, Slacker Rock

Venue: Rialto Theater

Date: 2/14/24

Description: I love a good opener at a concert, sometimes it introduces me to bands I never knew about before. Sometimes though, an opener is just a dude standing at a laptop, holding a microphone, wearing a flashy outfit to distract from the lack of actually good music. I think this happens because carrying a whole band around with you on tour, even if you're a relatively bigger band selling out every show you play, is very expensive. I think labels just realized it's cheaper to book one dude to stand at a laptop with a microphone and mess around for an hour before the headlining band gets there. It's been this way twice at the Rialto Theater, where I spent my valentines day night NOT sitting through another horrendous opener, instead mesmerized by 3 hours of noise rock from the one and only Yo La Tengo. In a smart move, Yo La Tengo elected to do 2 distinct sets instead of an opener, so from the moment they walked on around 8 pm, to the second they stepped off after 11, I was entranced by their simplistic and hypnotic melodies and grooves. They opened with "Sinatra Drive Breakdown", the opening track off their most recent album "This Stupid World", a favorite of mine from last year. That song contained the first of many amazing guitar/noise solos from the lead guitarist Ira Kaplan, all of which shot through my body like electricity. I really liked "This Stupid World", an album that was especially strong for a band that had their start in the 90s. We had plenty of cuts from that album throughout the first set, as well as some older tracks like "Ashes", "Alyda", and "Last Days of Disco". The next set was a lot louder, and included my two favorite Yo La Tengo songs, "Mr. Tough" and "Ohm". "Mr. Tough" was a uplifting, silly jazzy song with a awesome piano solo from Ira as well as a joyous fake-out ending. "Ohm" was especially fun as a noisy jam with a mantra of "resisting the flow", as well as providing the clear highlight of the show where Ira tossed his guitar into the crowd and encouraged them to hit it and generate noise during a solo. They also played a crowd favorite, "Autumn Sweater", with a fun drum groove provided by two percussionists, a good one for the romantic couples in the crowd. Finally, they closed with a jam on "The Story of Yo La Tengo", getting incredibly loud and doing some high jumps and swings with a guitar (impressive for a band made of three 50+ year olds!). They came back on, did a bit of banter, played a song off of my personal favorite album "Painful", and closed with three covers. They played a couple covers of love songs for those celebrating Valentines Day, and ended with a breathtaking cover of "Sunday Morning" by The Velvet Underground. The simple guitar and vocals united the audience, and ended the show on a very sweet note. All in all, Yo La Tengo is one of the best live bands you can see, as they pull from a wide discography to create almost an entirely new setlist every night, as well as some unique covers that pertain to the audience or city where they're playing! As much as they repeated "resisting the flow" during Ohm, I found it hard not be swept away in their current and carried downstream in a fun, noisy, energetic Valentines Day show. They've still "got it"!

Reviewer Name: Micah Dalton

Date of Review: 2/16/24

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