An Evening with Yo La Tengo at The Heights Theater

Written by on March 1, 2024

Forming in Hoboken, N.J. in the early 1980s, Yo La Tengo (Spanish for “I got it”) began paving their path. By the early 90s, lovebirds Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan found the final addition to the band, bassist player James McNew. Now almost forty years later, Yo La Tengo is still on the road. 

Supporting their 17th and latest album, This Stupid World, Yo La Tengo has put fans in a trance with another world tour. On February 24, Houston was left mystified by the band’s performance. Yo La Tengo brought their discography to life at The Heights Theater.

Photo by Mia De Los Reyes

Originally a 1920s movie theater, The Heights Theater was a perfect venue for the band. The reminiscent aura contributed to Yo La Tengo’s free-spirited performance. Modestly, the band eased on stage, picked up their instruments and began the show. Kaplan’s guitar playing painted a new memory in each fan’s mind and the audience was allured into silence. 

Effortlessly, Hubley and Kaplan’’s mixed vocal tones met each other in the middle. Whisking away on the drums, Hubley carried each song with grace. “Brain Capers” gave way to McNew’s sturdy bass. Each band member lost themselves in their own world. The shoe-gaze adjacent song welcomed each member of the audience to do the same. 

Photo by Mia De Los Reyes

“Sudden Organ,” released the undertones of experimental rock in Yo La Tengo’s discography. As Kaplan moved his hands swiftly across the Ace Tone organ, bobbing heads followed Hubley’s drumming tempo. Embracing the eccentric duality of the band, swaying movements filled the crowd. The pattern of Yo La Tengo’s smooth transition into their diverse genre experimentation continued through the night. 

Hubley’s voice, akin to the comforting whisper of an old friend, echoed throughout each heart in the theater. Mastering the craft of making covers sound like originals, a mellowed version of 70s soul icon George McCrae’s “You Can Have It All,” poured over the audience. Harmonies between McNew and Kaplan backed Humbly’s steady soothing voice. 

Photo by Mia De Los Reyes

Gentle hums and a quiet sing-along began as the show ended with a fan favorite. Originally sung by 60s pop vocalist, Anita Bryant, Yo La Tengo’s cover of “My Little Corner Of The World,” resides as a staple song for the band.  

Capturing a range of emotions and environments in their music, Yo La Tengo transforms the complexity of one’s life circumstances into a delicate creation. The band continues to grow in their authentic direction, never losing the grasp of maintaining their sweet yet somber distinguishable sound. 

Photo by Mia De Los Reyes

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