March 25, 2003

It seems odd to be writing any kind of What’s New with Yo La Tengo update right now, but then again if the afternoon edition of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire is back on the air (and it was, last time I looked) . . . I don’t know how to end that sentence.

Are you reading this from anywhere near New York City? We’re going to have a little midnight madness record release party at Other Music. It’ll start around 11 pm on April 7. We’ll post the details as soon as it’s all set.

We got back from our brief 4-show tour. It seemed to go pretty well, although once again P.T. Barnum was proved correct–You can’t please all of the people all of the time. An email correspondent writes:

"Yo La Tengo started quietly, letting us know that they had a new album coming out in days, thus they would be playing a lot of songs we would not know. That in itself acceptable, yet the tone in voice was one of resignation to being stuck on a stage doing something apparently unloved. The band plodded through song after song as if stamping and filing at the unfulfilling desk job in the nondescript cubicle."

Is that what it seemed like? I can say that’s 100% inaccurate in terms of discerning our state of mind. We must have been playing pretty badly to give that impression. But there’s more:

"Somewhere along the way, the Glands were thanked for playing the opening slot. A generous yet standard gesture from the nationally renowned headliners. Athens was then cited as a ‘very important city‘ for live music. Thank you, Yo La Tengo, for the respect this city deserves. What followed, though, was reprehensible; Yo La Tengo let it be known that it was nice to finally see a good band come out of Athens. I couldn’t believe what I had heard. Many of the people around me at the show were local musicians. Many of the bands they play in I see and enjoy regularly. They may not (yet or ever) have national recognition, they may not (yet or ever) have critical acclaim, they may not (yet or ever) appeal to Yo La Tengo, but to single handedly dismiss them was the ultimate in disrespect."

Oh my god. You know, it’s a rock cliché to get so burned out from touring that you forget what day it is and what city you’re in. All I can say in my defense is that I was clearly so fried from touring that I forgot all about R.E.M. and the B-52’s and Pylon and the Method Actors and Love Tractor and Neutral Milk Hotel and Vic Chestnutt and the Bruces and . . .

"I watched as the crowd slowly thinned. Was this comment the cause? I believe, I hope, so."

Could be. Or it could be that in our bored, apathetic way we played for almost two hours, right through last call.

"I stayed a little longer, hoping that the night would be saved in some way. It was not. When I finally left after about twenty minutes of endless indie-rock jamming, I felt that I had wasted twenty-eight dollars of my hard earned money."

Don’t most people who come to see us know to expect at least twenty minutes of endless indie-rock jamming? And if it’s "about twenty minutes" can it really be termed "endless"?

"Worse, I felt that I had wasted a few hours of my precious time, time that would have been much better spent lying on the couch watching network sitcom reruns."

That is precious time.

"What will I do now? I will not buy the new Yo La Tengo disc. I will not buy older Yo La Tengo discs that I do not already own. I will not see another Yo La Tengo show. I will buy CDs and see shows of the great new Athens bands who enjoy what they are doing and appreciate the people that come out to see them. I will buy CDs and see shows of touring acts whose rock star posturing consists of ‘Are you ready to rock, Athens, GA?’ and ‘Thank you, we love you, good night,’ instead of jaded rock ‘stars’ who could appear to care less about their audience."

Thank you, we love you, good night.

Finally, in our photo gallery, a few of the singers on "Nuclear War" were caught on film at last Saturday’s antiwar march in New York City. That’s Leila Rosenthal on the left with her American flag/peace combo; Isaac Hubley’s in the foreground, his Bush Is a Bum sign didn’t make the photo; behind him; sneaking her arm into the shot is Hillary Hubley, you can see some of her Drop Bush, Not Bombs sign; and on the right, holding his Stop Operation American Empire sign high is Max Rosenthal.