For a band that has records with names like I Am Not Afraid Of You And I Will Beat Your Ass, Painful and Extra Painful, Yo La Tengo are really a bunch of gentle rockers. They are masters of mood, creating vast, as well as microscopic, worlds within each of their albums. In the case of their most recent album (their 15th LP), 2018’s There’s a Riot Going On (titled after Sly & the Family Stone’s protest record of the same name), it wasn’t so much about shouting into the void as just finding away to walk through it and survive.
“For us, the record is about coping,” guitarist Ira Kaplan told Paste in 2018. “I feel that way a lot. You try to live your life as best you can, and personally, I’m very fortunate to be working with James (McNew) and Georgia (Hubley). It makes my life so much richer, and hopefully that’s expressed in the music.”
Indeed, that album was about peacefully persisting more than protesting. Yo La Tengo have always been subtle in that way, dating back to the beginning of their bandhood in the late 1980s. On this day (May 19) in 1995, the band played an intimate set at New York City’s Tramps venue, which hosted legions of big names and up-and-comers alike in the latter part of the 20th century. During this lively set, the band played songs from their then-just-released album Electr-o-pura, which turned 25 a few weeks ago on May 2. This album captured the band at a pivotal creative moment in their career. Hear Yo La Tengo play “Decora,” “Paul Is Dead,” “My Heart’s Reflection” and more Electr-o-pura cuts 25 years ago today in NYC, below via the Paste archives.
Read: If There’s Really “a Riot Going On,” Yo La Tengo Aren’t Saying What It Is