INDIE YO LA TENGO & GORKY’S ZYGOTIC MYNCI
Arches, Glasgow, Tue 9 Mar; Usher Hall, Edinburgh, Wed 10 Mar
It’s weird to think that indie music is old enough to have veterans. As a genre, indie is defined as much by what it’s not (punk, new wave, grunge, pop, country, skiffle) as by what it is (erm, slightly uncommercial music, a bit quirky, and with some guitars and stuff). Indie kicked off in the early 80s in America and has trundled along happily in the slow lane ever since, being overtaken by every fast-tracking flavour going.
And so all of a sudden, we find that there are people who have been doing it for 20 years, like Yo La Tengo. The Hoboken, New Jersey trio formed in 1984 and have been consistently inconsistent ever since. Confounding expectations and dumbfounding music buyers for two decades, the threesome of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew have produced beautiful, disturbing, funny, intelligent and weird indie-rock-pop-jazz-surf-blues, and have done so with a startling disregard for any kind of musical fashion whim.
So entrenched in indiedom are these elder statesmen (and a stateswoman) that The Onion spoofed them in a story about a roof collapse at a gig, precisely puncturing the pretentiousness of High Fidelity-style indie music nerds. But YLT can take a joke, and performed at The Onion Christmas party last year, staging a fake roof collapse in the process.
‘There were definitely some people who thought something was really going wrong,’ says Kaplan, laughing at the memory. ‘We definitely created some momentary confusion.’
Regular shows might not be so dramatic but there’s still plenty of confusion, with songs completely reworked, instruments swapped at a frightening rate and musical equipment piling up.
‘We’ve got four keyboards now, so we’re reaching Rick Wakeman levels,’ says Kaplan. ‘We’re just like one cape short of total Wakemanhood. In fact, Georgia does do one hand
PAULO FRESU Tolbooth, Stirling, Thu 11 Mar; Queen’s Hall, Edinburgh, Fri 12 Mar; Tron Theatre, Glasgow, Sun 14 Mar
A Fresu approach
Sardinian-born trumpeter Paolo FreSu is the first jazz artist to be featured in the Scottish Arts Council's new cross-genre touring initiative. Tune Up. The programme, funded by lottery cash. is enabling promoters like Billy Kelly — whose speciality lies in roots and world music — to branch out into musical areas they don't normally deal in. and also to send artists to places they wouldn't usually reach (Fresu's circuit includes at gig at the Aros Centre in Portree).
The trumpeter‘s touring project takes its title from his latest CD. Kind of Porgy and Bess, which is being officially released in the UK by RCA Victor to coincide with the dates. The music draws on George and Ira Gershwin‘s opera and the famous jazz version by Miles Davis and Gil Evans. but with a very different instrumentation to either. His line-ups range from trio to sextet. and include contributions from Nguyen Le on guitar and Antello Salis on accordion. So is it a tribute to Gershwin. or Miles. or neither?
'It is a homage to Miles, yes. and also to Louis Armstrong, but I want to make a new vision of Gershwin's work. I have followed Porgy and Bess through the recording by Miles and Gil and then Gunther Schuller's transcription of the whole recording. but this is my own personal interpretation of it. I want to make a new vision in a modern key.’
This will be Fresu's first extended tour of the UK. and his first time in Scotland. I'm not sure just how high a profile he currently has in this country. but he is very highly regarded in Europe. and this project, with its combination of the familiar and the new. should provide a good introduction to his music for anyone who hasn't come across him before.
INDIE LIVE IN LEITH
Yo La Tengo never get board of the indie tag
on the organ and one hand on the piano at some point, which is very, very dramatic.’
Kaplan exudes an unflappable calm. Whether he’s just a chilled-out character or whether he has mellowed with time is unclear. As for that elder statesman tag, he couldn’t give a monkey’s.
‘Hell, who doesn’t like getting old?’ he chuckles. ‘It’s a fact, what can you say?’ (Doug Johnstone)
Commplex, Edinburgh, Sat 13 Mar
Anyone keeping an eye on the live scene in Edinburgh might have noticed a resurgence in the amount of decent local band nights springing up recently. But this isn't just a city centre phenomenon — for Leith now has its own contribution to make to the Current crop of outlets for Edinburgh's up-and-comers.
‘Live in Leith's come a long way since we started six months ago and we've managed to pick up a lot of good bands along the way.’ says Dave Simpson. events coordinator at Leith's Commplex venue. “It's really just a chance for them to use the night as a launchpad for their music. and to pick up some media interest along the way — for example. we‘ve now got Beat 106's Jim Gellatly as our DJ and compere. and he's a recognised voice of live music in Scotland.‘
This month's event has a particularly attractive line-up. with the fact that most of the bands are from Dundee merely illustrating how the night welcomes the best in unsigned Scottish talent regardless of geographical bias or M8-straddling parochialism. Killer Angels. for example, have some pedigree. In between attracting major label and PR interest. they've also been invited by Alan McGee to play at his Death Disco and Queen is Dead clubs in London — the former after only their second gig. Fellow rockers also bussing it down from the aptly-named City of Discovery are the deck-assisted Junkstar and former T-Break apprentices Katy Bar the Door. as well as token capital contenders Delta Mainline. (David Pollock)
Killer Angels make things Commplex
4—18 Mar 2004 THE LIST 51