I hadn’t planned on going to see Yo La Tengo at the Barrymore on Saturday night, but my buddy Barrett came up with some tickets at the last minute. A few thoughts:

When the show started, the Barrymore was about 2/3rds full. This seemed a little strange, given that it was a Saturday night, and Neko Case had sold the place out on a Monday night just five days earlier. Perhaps that\’s just a testament to the Power of Neko.

I have to remember not to wear button fly jeans to concerts. It really makes repeat trips to the bathroom a hassle. It’s your job to remind me next time.

The Barrymore is selling New Glarus Coffee Stout, which is phenomenal, especially in large amounts.

Yo La Tengo has been around for 23 years, and sounded every bit of it – in a good way. They drifted seamlessly between soft, layered songs and some hard rockers. Seeing a band live really gives you a new appreciation for how hard it is to actually put some of these songs together. For instance, a song like “The Room Got Heavy” never really stood out for me on their CD, but the fuzzy, repetitive bass line coupled with two of the band members playing drums was a revelation. The timing was impeccable.

Somewhere around the third song, the girl directly in front of me fired up her pipe. As my friend Gooch says, that takes stones the size of Jupiter – to openly smoke weed at an indoor concert in a venue where all smoking is banned. Of course nobody cared, so I guess it worked out for her.

The best part of the show for me was the last 30 minutes or so of the first set. They played a loud, aggressive version of the Beach Boys’ “Little Honda,” interspersed with about 10 minutes of thunderous feedback. Had I walked out of the concert after that finale, I would have been amazed at what I just saw. But then they came back for two mediocre encores that kind were a little disappointing, including a collaboration with their less than stellar opening band.

I tend to be more of a fan of songs that Georgia Hubley sings, and I have to admit that for their live songs, her drumming affected her singing somewhat. But I can\’t even imagine how hard it is to drum and sing at the same time, Phil Collins-style.

Generally, our strategy at the Barrymore is to sneak down to the right side of the stage and stand there – there’s usually plenty of room, and you get really close to the stage. The downside is that you’re standing right next to the speaker on the side of the stage. I certainly don’t mind loud music, but I still can’t hear out of my right ear this morning.

After the show, we were hit up for change by a homeless guy on a bike, which led to a discussion about why anyone would want to be homeless in Wisconsin. I mean, seriously – if you’re going to be homeless, isn’t it just as easy to do it in a place like San Diego, where the weather’s nice all the time? We also discussed what he would likely be purchasing with our contribution, and Barrett told me about bumwine.com, a fantastic website that rates the various \”fortified wines\” (AKA, bumwines).

From their review of Wild Irish Rose:

Another web page claims that this foul beverage is a conspiracy by the republicans to kill the homeless. Bums ask a liquor store clerk for Wild Irish rose by saying, \”gimme a pint of rosie with a skirt,\” a skirt being a paper bag. Some don\’t want it cold either. It\’s called \”wild\” for a good reason, and bystanders should beware. Wild Irish Rose is sure to light a fire of drunken rage in your soul. A guy named \”Richards\” is mentioned on the label.

After stops at the Come Back Inn and Essen Haus, we capped the night off with La Bamba steak burritos. It’s amazing to me that La Bamba couldn’t stay open on State Street, but it somehow does fine in suburban western Madison. This trip will virtually guarantee my place in the bathroom for most of Sunday.