Yo La Tengo is one of those indie rock bands like Built to Spill and Sonic Youth that has been around for a long time and has had a heavy influence on the popularity of the indie rock genre today. They formed in 1984, but hadn’t put an album out since 2009 and have toured sparsely. In this cold weather, I haven’t been getting out much with Bessie, so I decided I would take in a free in-store at Fingerprints, give out some ice cream, and see this exclusive performance. YLT hit up four record stores at the beginning of their tour including Fingerprints in Long Beach. I coordinated with the owner, Rand Foster, to serve free treats to the people in line. This meant I had to arrive early to get prime parking.
I showed up and was able to get the parking spot I needed. As much as I wanted to, I knew I would run out of stock if I started handing out treats immediately, so I had to hide out in the shop a bit so that people wouldn’t try to buy something. I witnessed a few people checking out the truck, looking in the windows, but I kept my distance. About an hour before the show started, they kicked everyone out of the shop and made them form a line. Just before this, I opened my truck and positioned myself in front of it so that I could distribute the goods. I asked several people if they wanted ice cream and most were bewildered. Someone would step up and get something and others would sort of see how it works.
Once the line began forming, I put Ben and Jerry’s treats in a box and walked down the line offering Half Baked Bars and Cherry Garcia to everyone. It was in the 50s outside, so many people didn’t want ice cream, but once they saw how good it looked as someone else was enjoying it, they caved. Once everyone had been checked in, the line of people headed into the store and Yo La Tengo started their set.
YLT played about ten songs mostly stuff off of their new album “Fade” that came out January 15th, the day before. They only played one older song and they did a Beach Boys cover. The version of “Is it enough” they played was very different from the recorded version, a much more mellow, acoustic-style affair then the track on the album. On several songs, James McNew, the bassist, played a twelve-string guitar instead of his bass. Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan stuck to their instruments for the full set, drums and guitar respectively.
They were really well received by the crowd and were nice enough to sign items, chat, and take pictures when the show was over. As I stood in line to get my record signed, I talked to two young girls, barely twenty, who had traveled from Santa Barbara just to see the show. One of them revealed a tattoo of the band and James snapped a quick picture of it. The majority of the crowd though seemed to be long time fans of the band and definitely reveled in this intimate evening spent with Ira, Georgia and James: the folks that comprise Yo La Tengo.