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Yo La Tengo @ White Eagle Hall in Jersey City (9/24/2021)

Yo La Tengo @ White Eagle Hall in Jersey City (9/24/2021)

Photos and words by Rosi Lamela A year and half is way too long to not go to a live show. It went by fast but I felt pretty lost. Ever since I found my passion covering shows, it became part of me to be out there. Sometimes it consisted of getting to shows when the doors would open to secure my spot, or hiding in a photo pit with other photographers. There were shows I went to where I never heard of the band, and shows where I sang along to all of the songs I memorized on all my rush hour commutes. There were times I got wrapped up in conversation with a new photographer I just met, and times I bumped into other music nerds I ended up bonding with. This was all a very big part of my life and I thought I lost it. Friday I got it all back. I got it back with the live soundtrack of Yo La Tengo. Yo La Tengo is one of the bands that has weaved in and out of my life. I would randomly hear their music or someone would reference them. There were times I would pick one of their albums at random to listen to when it was time to unwind, and a specific time I interrupted a makeout session to inquire about the awesome music in the background only to learn it was this Jersey band and their trippy chill instrumentals following along. I was once in Montreal and when I mentioned I was from Jersey, an excited Canadian said to me, “My favorite band is from Jersey!!” I waited for the usual Bon Jovi shout out and got this Hoboken Gem instead. Friday I headed to White Eagle Hall in Jersey City to see Yo La Tengo’s sold out show. When I got in line I heard all the whisperings of their devoted fans. A couple in front of me told me all about YLT’s Hanukkah shows that are 7 straight days of what seems to be not just a live performance but a curated show. There were rumours that they were going to play two sets on Friday with no openers. I showed my apocalyptic vax card, tightened my mask and walked into White Eagle Hall for what seemed like an amazing show ahead. After conversing with a fellow photographer I have not seen in what feels like a long time, the crowd started to cheer as the trio walked on the stage. They began with the song “You are Here”. I got chills as the live instruments filled the room. This trancy vibe continued throughout their first set. They took turns changing instruments as they played songs from several albums with ease. A few of the tracks that filled the first set were from the album There’s a Riot Going On, like “Forever” and “Polynesia #1”. They went pretty far back with the song “Deeper into Movies” which got a good reaction from the crowd. They ended the first set with “Here You Are”. After a brief intermission the vibe totally changed and got noisy. Ira Kaplan even mentioned that something happened backstage during the intermission suggesting the reason for the change in between sets. They came back with “Stockholm Syndrome” and brought everyone back with louder riffs from their 1997 album, I Can Hear The Heart Beating As One. I was happy to hear “Autumn Sweater” live. My favorite tune they chose was the song “Blue Line Swinger” which I had never heard before. I loved the back and forth between the guitar and the repetitive drum beat. I watched from the balcony as they walked off the stage and came back for an encore. They played 3 covers and thanked the crowd for filling up the amazing Jersey City venue. I was filled with gratitude for music and was way too hyped up for what was very close to midnight. I headed home and thought about the weirdness of public spaces with everything going on but how we’re all managing. Being able to share music in a space was something I definitely took for granted. It’s something I will never take for granted again. I will be out there as long as the rock gods are on board.

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