Thursday, July 13, 2006

Yo La Tengo @Prospect Park Bandshell, July 13th

Tonight, poor Ste was detained by work, so I ventured to Prospect Park late by myself to catch the amazing Yo La Tengo (go Jersey!). In 2001 they recorded an instrumental soundtrack for eight short undersea documentaries of Jean Painleve, entitled The Sounds Of Science, which was the subject of tonight's program.

I showed up as the sun was setting, so I knew I didn't have much time before YLT started. I used my handy dandy Friends pass to enter the pit and quickly searched for a seat. It was packed, I guess cos the front area of the pit, normally filled by about 3 rows, was taken up by the band's instruments and setup. Amazingly, the first unoccupied seat I found? Front center! Yeah, baby!

YLT came to the pit -- a threesome of middle aged, unassuming individuals -- James, Ira and Georgia (as pictured above). The films started up on the large white screen suspended above them, and they began.

The films were old school documentaries, with occasional English subtitles. Almost Zissou-esque, if you will. I didn't pay too much mind to the film, however. Friggin' Yo La Tengo was playing right in front of me, as if I were sitting on my couch, watching them in my living room. The music they played was completely without lyrics, and mostly ambient type noises you might imagine that would accompany marine imagery of seahorses, octopi and the ilk. Lots of quiet plinky noises with gentle drumming mainly by Georgia. But there were occasional moments of crazy dramatic feedback, and for those moments, I was especially thrilled to be seated RIGHT THERE. While Georgia primarily played the drums, James the bass and Ira the guitar and/or keyboards, they also played musical chairs with each taking a turn at some other instrument. Very cool!

Tonight was also a chance for me to play around with my old digital camera. I've had it for almost 4 years, and I don't think I've ever read the instructions or properly learned how to operate it in manual mode. Because the lighting for the band was minimal so as not to detract from the documentary (and I didn't want to be obnoxious with a flash), I had to fuss with the exposure and shutter speed settings, and rely on the light generated by the projection itself. Yeah, so I had no idea what I was doing, but luckily, some shots came out. Not easy!

I am happy that I pushed myself to go even though Ste couldn't make it. What a marvelous experience!

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