Yo La Tengo performed at Oakland’s Fox Theatre last night, continuing their Spin The Wheel Tour. The stakes are pretty high when the theme of the first set is determined strictly by the spin of a wheel. The possibilities ranged from "The Name Game", songs containing peoples monikers, to “Sitcom Theatre”, during which band members perform a 30 minute TV sitcom script in its entirety. Last night’s spin landed on "Dump", thus the first set featured songs by bassist James McNew’s side project. Prince’s "The Beautiful Ones" was also performed during the first set, obviously in homage to his Purpleness’s Oakland shows.
For the second set, the verbally supportive audience enjoyed a bricolage of Yo La Tengo’s shape-shifting motifs. Highlights included the sonic lushness of "Flying Lesson (Hot Chicken #1)" and an epic, half-hour performance of "Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind". The bombastic aural assault of Ira Kaplan’s guitar work swooped and soared over patterns created by the relentless rhythm section. Georgia Hubley’s drumming was like a machine: tight, succinct and drawing attention to itself only for its perfection. For the encore, YLT was joined by 70s SoCal punks The Urinals for a handful of covers and originals. The evening’s performance came to an end with the nearly a cappella rendition of the sublimely gorgeous "Alyda".
Text by Don Lewis