Arriving at the start of last night's Yo La Tengo show at Beachland Ballroom was kinda like shuffling through the back doors of the sanctuary as a Sunday morning service is beginning. The audience — a sold-out crowd — was completely quiet and locked-in as the trio gently worked their way through some of their softer material, of which they have plenty.
As James McNew worked the neck of an upright bass, Georgia Hubley and Ira Kaplan traded stripped-down vocal work through a number of what were essentially disarming lullabies. Couples embraced, eyes closed, and the lighter side of this strange little band from Hoboken washed across the nicest rock 'n' room in all of Cleveland.
The set wrapped with a delicate new take on "Deeper Into Movies," a trippy and forlorn love song from the '90s. It was incredible.
The second set, as YLT is wont to do, was much more intense and electrified. They opened with "Sugarcube" and then ran through various corners of their canon before landing on "Ohm" and the dizzying rocker "Pass The Hatchet, I Think I'm Goodkind" to close everything out.
There was far less stage banter than at previous YLT shows here in Cleveland. (I think it was their 2013 show that saw Kaplan and McNew going back and forth over who found cooler, more obscure records down in the basement of Beachland prior to the show.) Last night was all business, like a fine glass of whiskey on a January night.