YO LA TENGO with the SADIES at the Guvernment, May 12. Tickets: $21.50. Attendance: 1,000. Rating: N
the sun was still high over the Guvernment as the Sadies, clutching the remainder of their beer rider, wove through the scattered crowd to the stage at 5:55 pm.
There couldn't have been more than 100 early birds on hand to hear what the Sadies' new psychedelic-twang might sound like underneath a wet blanket.
The acoustics at the Guvernment have never been great, but this was a new low. Apart from Travis Good's trebly Gretsch, all that was heard was a muddy bowmfff-bowmfff noise like a sack of potatoes being swatted with a rake.
Fortunately for Yo La Tengo, their simple guitar-bass-drums set-up was better suited to the venue's sonic shortcomings, and the decision to play a "rock" set meant guitarist Ira Kaplan's wispy vocals would be high enough in the mix to have a chance of being heard.
As it turned out, very little of what the pensive trio twittered could be confused for rock and/or roll. There were a couple of half-assed stabs at a bossa nova rattle, but drummer Georgia Hubley and bassist/keyboardist James McNew couldn't seem to hit a groove. Every few tunes, Kaplan would try wrestling some skronk from his axe while shaking his shoulders like he's seen Thurston Moore do for dramatic effect, but even then it still came off like bloodless collegiate muzak.
For the sake of levity, Kaplan apologized to all the Raptors fans he may have run down while driving around the ACC following the win against Philadelphia. No one got the joke, if there was one to get. A roomful of well-flannelled folks with shoulder bags momentarily stopped chatting and looked at each other's furrowed brows as if to say, "Who are these losers?"