"And I heard it in the wind.....and I saw it in the sky...."
"....and I thought it was the end. I thought it was the 4th of July."
The above lyric is taken from the morose Soundgarden classic "4th of July" off of the Superunknown disc. I'm sure there's a lot of songs entitled '4th of July', but the only immediate ones to come to mind are the latter, and that way gloomy U2 instrumental off of The Unforgettable Fire.
I can only think of two songs offhand entitled "We're An American Band;" the Grand Funk Railroad classic, and the Yo La Tengo drone towards the end of I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One. Never though, did I ever think that I would hear those two songs played back to back, but that's exactly how Hoboken's finest kicked off their hour long set at Battery Park this past evening...opening with the YLT tune, and then paying tribute to Homer Simpson's favorite band before dropping a spritely "Stockholm Syndrome" and a mournful "Tears Are In Your Eyes."
Considering the last two YLT shows I witnessed included their 'Sounds of Science' gig and their mostly acoustic show at Tonic, it was mighty refreshing to see a straight-up, Ira/Georgia/James electric set for once. The outdoor acoustics on the lawn were quite solid, as was the show itself. Highlights included a slightly revamped "Autumn Sweater" with a different bassline and jazzier organ riffs, a version of "Cherry Chapstick" that was plenty noisy, if a little too speedy for its own good, "Little Eyes", "Tom Courtenay","The Summer", and an extremely noisy and drawn out final song which I did not recognize, but was still plenty satisfying. Tribute was paid to NYC with a second encore of "Sheena Is a Punk Rocker." A relatively minor YLT gig in the grand scheme of Yo La Tengo, but highly satisfying nevertheless.
Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks played too. My only prior live SM experience was listening from the parking lot at a Radiohead show in Montreal that we arrived considerably late to, but I was impressed with his set. Relatively heavy on his Pig Lib album compared to the recent Irving Plaza show, part of the fun of seeing Malkmus live is hearing the fun he has with his vocal parts, as well as the improved basslines on just about every song. Things began with the somewhat surprising appearance of "Dynamic Calories" (a/k/a the first song on the Pig Lib live bonus EP), followed by the future SM classic "Do Not Feed the Oyster." Only "Church on White" and "Jojo's Jacket" made an appearance from the first SM album, but in addition to the lion's share of recent Face the Truth songs, concertgoers also got Pig Lib tunes "Water and a Seat", "Animal Midnight", "Dark Wave", and "Witch Mountain Bridge"; utilized somewhat oddly as the set closer. There was also some humor in abundance when the first five seconds or so of "Loud Cloud Crowd" was played, only to be abandoned with a "let's not bother with that one today" from Malkmus. I was happy to hear that the "Do Ya Think I'm Sexy" keyboard riff from the studio version of "It Kills" was perfectly replicated onstage.
Laura Cantrell kicked off the festivities with a very pleasant set of cosmopolitan C&W that went nicely with my Whole Foods prepared salad. And is it just me, or is Battery Park not used nearly enough for outdoor shows? The lawn is easy to get to, very nicely shaded, bathrooms weren't a problem, and the sound was surprisingly excellent. God Bless Matador Records indeed. A very pleasant way to spend a holiday afternoon.
(and the Mets beat the Nationals! Only 9 games out of first bay-bee!)