Friday, January 2, 2009

Photos: Yo La Tengo and The Feelies rock the Wellmont

On New Year's Eve, I went to the Wellmont Theatre in Montclair, NJ to see indie rock icons Yo La Tengo and the Feelies, with opening act the Vivian Girls. I hung out with my friend from school, who is the daughter of Feelies drummer Stan Demeski (You should have seen my reaction when I first heard this from her a few months back).

The Wellmont is located off the corner of Bloomfield Ave. in Montclair. It used to be one of those movie palaces from back in the day. It's a rather intimate setting, and is rather leinent to where you sit, as I moved from the floor to the balcony many times throughout the show. The aucoustics are rather good, as the bands sets sounded really good.

The opening act was the Vivian Girls, a Brooklyn-based trio who released their debut earlier this year. Thier short, about twenty minutes, but it was still a rather good set. Hope to see some more from this gang of girls.

Now the Feelies came on to play. For you noobs out there, the Feelies are one of the earliest indie bands, or in their day "college rock". Their debut Crazy Rythyms has appeared on many "Best of the 80's" lists, and have been cited as an influence of R.E.M. After the subsequent albums The Good Earth, Only Life and Time for a Witness, they broke up in 1992 (according to my friend, Bill Million one of the members, I forget who exactly, moved to Florida, and it just led to that). They reunited this year (Once again, the member in Florida keeps coming back for the shows). Their set was a wonderful, filled with their early indie gems that won them a cult following, which includes Johnathan Demme (Silence of the Lambs).

Glenn Mercer

Stan Demeski

Bill Million and Brenda Sauter

Dave Weckerman

I was in the presence of some Feelies before the show; I shook Stan Demeski's hand (well, he is my friend's father), and Brenda Sauter talked to Stan's daughter beforehand too.

Their set was very fun as they played their tuneful songs. They didn't play like a band who hadn't worked together in 16 years, but like they toured together for as long as possible. They played the classics from Crazy Ryhtyms like "Raised Eyebrows":

My favorite part of the set was when they rocked out my personal favorite "Stay", where it just builds up in the beginning and then they jam out. Good fun and dancing. Now it was time for Yo La Tengo.

Once again, so that my noobish friends would understand, a little something about the bands. As one aging hipster near me put it, "They are the elder statesmen of indie rock." Awhole lot of truth in that statement. They formed in 1984 in Hoboken and have been working ever since. Some of their most notable albums include I Can Hear the Heart Beating as One, Fakebook and the aptly titled, I Am Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass.

Ira Kaplan

Georgia Hubley

James McNew

The band opened up with a 10(?) minute jam, where Ira raped his guitar the first time. Then there was an hour period where they played rather quiet tunes, and some rockers. Then around 12:15, people where already celebrating the New Year, and throwing balloons and a beach ball around (Ira kicked the beach ball when it came on stage), the band proceeded with a 15 minute jam that was damn inspiring, filled with feedback and Ira's ferocious guitar playing.

After that with much feedback, he proceeded to jam on the keyboards, while James McNew this time did the duty of guitar.

After the earsplitting coda, the band played the fan-favorite "Autumn Sweater", and then they played with Glenn Mercer and Bill Million of the Feelies, in an indie rock extravaganza, playing the Velvet Underground's "What Goes On" and from what I heard, I think a Rolling Stones song.

(sorry, it's distorted; should have shot this on the digital camera)

They closed out the night, and since the Wellmont doesn't have a backstage, the bands go to a trailer on Bloomfield Ave. On the way out, I ran into Glenn and Bill of the Feelies, who are both very small in size, and wished them Happy New Year. What a spectacular show. I hope everyone there had a good time too, and a Happy New Year.


Katie said...

hi matt,
my mom told me she found your blog cause she regularly searches for feelies stuff online. i've got a blog on this site too.
btw it was bill who moved to florida.

M. Komar said...

Hey thanks for viewing my blog. I just discovered this comment 2 1/2 weeks after the fact. Just shows my low standards on comment :(.

Thanks for clearing up with the "who moved to florida" fact.