Thirty-five years of Yo La Tengo

Kurt Andersen talks with Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew of Yo La Tengo.

Yo La Tengo was an indie band before the word even really existed.

Their first show, back in 1984, was at the now-closed Maxwell’s in their hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey. “It was terrifying, terrifying,” Georgia Hubley tells Kurt Andersen.

“The idea that people were thinking of us was almost inconceivable,” Ira Kaplan says of those early gigs.

More than 30 years later, Kaplan, Hubley and James McNew recall the anonymity of their early career. “One of the things about making a record is that you really don’t want to worry about how people are going to react,” Kaplan says. “I think we got so good at remembering how nobody reacted [in the beginning] that it’s very easy to find that spot with it again.”

Yo La Tengo performs the song “Double Dare” from their 1993 album “Painful” as well as the song “Shades of Blue” from their most recent album, “There’s a Riot Going On” from 2018.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Sign up for The Top of the World, delivered to your inbox every weekday morning.