Indie music legends Yo La Tengo return to Vancouver, on November 12 at The Vogue Theatre, to perform live in The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller – a “live documentary” by Academy Award-Nominated director Sam Green, which launches the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival‘s 11th annual season.
While Yo La Tengo’s hardcore fans are already salivating for the band’s only Canadian date (for their Extra Painful 30th anniversary year), the some of us may be left wondering…
What is Yo La Tengo?
Here are 10 videos that attempt to answer this elusive question that is still contentious even amongst fans and music critics. Their compositions can go in many directions – from sweet acoustic odes, to frenetic fuzz guitar freakouts, to freeform jazz inspired experimentalism. Shapeshifting from record to record, Yo La Tengo are perfectly comfortable rocking out in a bar as they are composing music for aquariums, or even covering the classics like The Beach Boys.
In fact one could argue that Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew’s refusal to adhere to popular music conventions is their only true hallmark. Thus, when asked to score the musical component to Sam Green’s “live documentary” on neo-futurist architect R. Buckminister Fuller (whose impact on Vancouver can be still be seen in local wonders like Science World), they jumped at the chance to make a new synergy and perform the soundtrack live each night – constantly jamming, riffing and playing with sounds inspired by Fuller’s own quest to explore the undefined – after all, he was just “a passenger on the spaceship Earth.”
1. The Summer
Here’s an early gem from YLT’s Fakebook record on seminal US indie label BarNone. Fresh faced, collegiate, and sporting a deadpan East Coast cool (think Lou Reed and Jonathan Richman), this song is one of the first I can remember hearing on CBC’s late night Brave New Waves program. It was indie-rock innocence.
For this great song off their 1997 release I can hear the heart beating as one a bunch of whack-job corporate lawyers that run the music biz send Ira, Georgia and James to rock school to try and learn the various bullshit clichés that have led to the standardization of contemporary music practice. Learning how to smash your guitar… Classic.