Neil Innes was not available to play all of the dates on our UK tour of 2000, his place taken by Robyn Hitchcock. For our London show, 14 years ago today, we decided to have both Neil and Robyn take part, most spectacularly on a version of “Mr. Apollo,” with Robyn in the role of Vivian Stanshall. On this date in 1989, Georgia and I took advantage of an off day on our European tour and took a train to Amsterdam, seeing and meeting the Clean and Chris Knox for the first time. But neither of those occasions inspired this letter from Jason from Minneapolis:
When I was in school at SUNY-Binghamton (now Binghamton University) I was involved with the college radio station, WHRW, and also booked concerts for a small campus organization called S.C.A.B. (Straight Country And Blues). I went off the S.C.A.B. rails a bit for my final show, a co-bill of The Wedding Present and Yo La Tengo, but I figured if CBGBs could do it, so could we. I wasn’t used to hosting two separate acts, and for some reason The Wedding Present used our usual dressing room and Yo La Tengo was put up in the gay student organization office. We fed The Wedding Present ratatouille from our campus food co-op, and then our little S.C.A.B. staff fed ourselves down the hall in the WHRW lobby. I was shovelling it down when Georgia and Ira walked in with a mighty annoyed look and asked when they were going to get to eat too. Whoops. Forgot about the other band. I tried to lighten the air by talking about seeing The Feelies on Letterman.
The show went on a little further down the hall in the Susquehanna Room, known by day as the cafeteria. It was my first time seeing Yo La Tengo play a full set and it covered all the bases — loud and quiet, old and new songs, and a bunch of covers. I discretely taped the show from the soundboard (sorry, guys). They kicked it off with a scorching cover of Let’s Compromise. Lewis was introduced as a song they likely played at their last Binghamton show in the mid-80s, one of their first as a trio. We were also treated to an early version of Sudden Organ.