Thursday, November 26, 2009
Of Copenhagen: Yo La Tengo
This is a post about the rock band Yo La Tengo. They are very popular in a certain scene. But some of this publications older readers probably haven't heard of them. In any case, I want to start by thanking a band called the Handsome Furs, who are, to my knowledge, the only indie-rock band to come through Riga in my 18 months here. We've had a couple of the really big R.E.M.- or Metallica-size tours, but not many club shows. I guess Riga is just too small and too far away from other big cities to making touring here economical for the little guys.
But somehow, Copenhagen is firmly on the European tour itinerary for the indie rock bands of America. I was combing the listings before my trip there, and the number of great bands coming through was really amazing. But there was nothing advertised for the time I was there. Then, wonder of wonders, in a free "what's-on" paper I found on the train in from the airport, a listing for indie-rock institution Yo La Tengo - 8:00 Saturday night!
The show was in Christiania, a squatter's community on a former military installation. The listing said 8:00, and not knowing how prompt showtimes are in Denmark or if it was sold out already, I endeavored to get there right at 8:00. Using a free handout map, I found the venue, but there was nobody standing around out front. So, I opened the door and wandered in... and found myself backstage. But there was nobody wandering around back there. So I wandered my way out to the appropriate audience area, and was faced with a dilemma. Yo La Tengo is (really) fairly popular and certainly capable of selling out a modest venue. I had accidentally snuck in to the show. I really didn't mean to. But now I was afraid that if I went out and came back in, they wouldn't sell me a ticket. So I stayed. I didn't feel bad for the venue, embracing the whole squatter ethos of Christiana, I didn't feel like I owed them anything. I did buy a couple beers from them.
I felt sort of bad for whatever ticket money I was stealing from the band. So I bought a concert t-shirt for the first time in probably ten years. My understanding of music-world economics is that the band makes a better margin on t-shirts than tickets anyway. Looking around once the show started, I don't think it was sold out in the end. Sorry, Yo La Tengo.
Anyway, thanks to arriving early and being alone, I managed to get a spot in the very front, and took my first stab at concert photography. Enjoy.