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  YO LA TENGO w/ Versus  
  The Variety Playhouse  
  Little Five Points, Atlanta, GA  
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"If the French did Indie Rock, this is what it would sound like."
          Michelle Sidler

I hate Sonic Youth.

Somewhere, as I write this, a member of the Indie Rock Mafia is taking aim at my head with a potato gun. I know it's sacrilegious; I know it kills what little cred I may have. I don't care. I've never understood feedback and screeching. It all seems like such a pointless waste of energy, full of sound and fury and signifying...the fact that someone's got their amp turned up too loud.

And, outside of the obvious New York thing, what does this have to do with Yo La Tengo?

If you have to ask, you weren't at the show on Saturday, September 23.

But let's step back for a minute, and start from the beginning:

I've never been a big fan of Yo La Tengo. But they have a great live reputation, and the one time I've seen them tends to bear it out. I mean, they're not the greatest band I've ever seen, but they were good enough to make me go "hey! I wouldn't mind seeing these guys again." So when I heard they were coming to town again, and Versus were opening, I was rather excited.

You see, Versus are one of my favorite live bands.

And I was going to this show with several of my close friends.

And Yo La Tengo are a great live band.

And you can see where I'm setting myself up for disappointment.

Anyway, as one might expect, Versus played exceedingly well. Although they have a new album out, they really didn't focus on these unknown songs. Instead they ranged through their catalog, picking out some of the highlights of the past years. And they attacked the songs with energy, but it was a focused energy - inwardly directed towards the music, and not just flailing about to be evocative.

Needless to say, I was impressed and happy by this performance.

As the intermission continues, the venue crowds up and packs in, so that we're all a bunch of sardines crushed together in a stuffy, sweaty mass. And everyone seems to hold their collected breath as Yo La Tengo takes the stage. And then launch into an assault of sound and screaming and feedback. This isn't your mother's mellower, more passive Yo La Tengo. This is the band that reminds me of Sonic Youth. And I hate Sonic Youth.

Rationally, I can tell you that they played an excellent set - upbeat and energetic. Like Versus they ranged across their catalog and hit several rare numbers ("I've never heard them play that live," one of my friends would comment). And, to give the audience credit, they too were upbeat but also focused - listening intently to music, and remaining quiet during the few mellow moments. And I think most people were pleased...even if at times the screeching overwhelmed the PA and flooded the auditorium.

But me? I just wanted to return to the happy Indie Pop of Versus, and leave the feedback behind.

An Editorial Comment on The Review:
  I would like to point out one bit of irony here, because i (PostLibyan) am editing this document and feel that i must.

Tracers keeps repeating how she hates Sonic Youth.
And she loves Versus.
And this show was bad because it was too Sonic Youth-y.

The Irony: Versus ended their set (which i also enjoyed tremendousely) with a little medley that included part of the song Silver Rocket. And who originally performed Silver Rocket?
Sonic Youth.

In fact, to me it seemed like Yo La Tengo were merely responding to Versus' use of NY-style feedback by trying to out-do them. Now, i like that stuff, but it just seemed ... shallow to me.

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