Over the Weekend: Yo La Tengo, Times New Viking at the Granada Theater

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Yo La Tengo, Times New Viking
Granada Theater
January 30, 2010

Much better than: staying home watching the Mavericks lose to the Blazers.

A sold-out crowd got out of the cold weather and into the warm confines of The Granada Theater Saturday night to catch the iconic indie rock band Yo La Tengo. Though the trio from New Jersey has been making Dallas an annual tour stop for almost a decade, each appearance has showcased a different aspect of the band.

Saturday's display was no exception.

Last year, Yo La Tengo played it primarily acoustic and stuck to its mellower material. Granted, that show was at the Dallas Museum of Art, so a rather muted performance was somewhat expected. The year before, guitarist Ira Kaplan, his drumming wife Georgia Hubley and bassist James McNew shredded ears at The Granada with an all-out assault featuring the band's feedback-based catalogue.

On this particular January evening, the crowd got quite a bit of both as Yo La Tengo provided two hours of both its soft and hard repertoire. Initially sticking with songs from 2009's Popular Songs, Ira and crew weaved in and out of the band's impressive back catalogue, playing crowd favorites such as "Autumn Sweater" and "From a Motel 6."

Yet the material from the most recent effort held up just as well as the older fare. "Here to Fall," "Avalon or Someone Very Similar" and (especially) the beautiful drone of "More Stars Then There Are in Heaven" were perfect mixtures of indie pop and structured noise. Incredibly, after over 26 years of making music together, this trio continues to impress and amaze.

Opening act Times New Viking proved to be no slouch either. The trio from Columbus, Ohio played a killer set highlighted by the vocal interplay between drummer Adam Eliot and keyboardist Beth Murphy. Echoes of X and Sonic Youth hovered in the air as Times New Viking made quite a bit of cool racket for the 500 or so spectators who got to the show on time.

Critic's Notebook:
Personal Bias:
Starting with 1995's Electr-O-Pura, Yo La Tengo has simply not made a bad record. 2000's And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out and 2003's Summer Sun were introspective and restrained while I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass (from 2006) was a  full-throttle rock record. Either way, Yo La Tengo has done it better and longer than any band I can think of, indie or otherwise.

Random Note: Loads of sour-faced folks were turned away at the door as the Granada was sold out way before the headliners hit the stage. Such a solid outpouring of support for a band that some folks still think plays Latin music bodes well for the scene as a whole. Of course, both Yo La Tengo and Times New Viking deserve the kudos--but hats off to the locals who braved the chilly night air to hear some great music.

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