Yo La Tengo, a trio consisting of Ira Kaplan on guitar & vocals, his wife, Georgia Hubley, on drums & vocals, and their best friend, James McNew, on bass guitar & background vocals, have been playing together since ’86. They also return with Dave Schram on electric guitar, of whom they played with back on their last album of cover songs, Fakebook, in 1990.
Never having achieved an album in the U.S. top 20 in their 30 years of being a band, Yo La Tengo has still always held positive critical acclaim and a loyal fan base. The name of the band, “Yo La Tengo,” actually stems from New York Mets baseball player Elio Chacón. Story has it that when center fielder Rickie Ashburn went for a catch, he would scream “I got it! I got it!,” or in Spanish, “Yo La Tengo! Yo La Tengo!,” so that Chacón, being Venezuelan and mainly Spanish speaking, would understand so the two players wouldn’t collide into each other. Ira & Georgia, who attended many Mets games together, liked the phrase, which could also be interpreted as, “I’ve got her,” when referring to a female, not the object-gender.
From their festival shows during every night of Hanukkah, to their Wheel of Fortune-inspired tour with possibilities like: answer a question from the audience, watch the band act out a classic sitcom, play a song starting with the letter S, play a song with someone’s name in it, and play one of your cover songs, the band has always been fun and entertaining. I once saw them open for The National in Philadelphia and they played “Little Honda” for what had to be 23 minutes.
Here on Stuff Like That There however, it’s not as raw as a 23 minute “Little Honda” shred. It’s more like a chill, live acoustic concert of Yo La Tengo answering questions like, “I wonder what The Cure’s famous song, ‘Friday I’m In Love,’ sounds like when sung by Georgia Hubley.” As well as questions like, “well don’t stop there. What about Hank Williams, or Darlene McCrea, or The Lovin’ Spoonful,” or “What would ‘Deeper Into Movies’ from their album I Can Hear the Heart Beating As One sound like under this style?” And Yo La Tengo delivers, pretty straightforwardly, with no surprises, if you ever have any question like that.