I saw Yo La Tengo Friday night in Chicago. On this tour, they have a giant Wheel-of-Fortune-style wheel, with accompanying theme music, that determines what the first of two 45 minute sets will consist of (for example, “Songs That Start with S,” “Name Songs”). A guy from the audience spun and got “Spinners Choice,” and he chose (based on audience urging) “Sitcom Theatre.”
The band then left for a minute and came back on stage with scripts in hand and acted out the entire “Chinese Restaurant” episode of Seinfeld — all 22 minutes of it. Ira was Jerry, Georgia was Elaine and James was George. The stagehands did the other characters.
It was nuts. The crowd was largely with it for about 8 or 9 minutes, but at some point they realized that they were going to have to watch the whole thing and they completely turned on them. Someone would shout, “Play some songs!” and other people would clap. There was a lot of stomping to drown them out.
But they committed to it. They did the whole episode; Georgia implied some amount of regret with her line delivery/posture (or maybe that’s just Georgia all the time), but Ira’s attitude was to actively ignore the audience. Ira was a great Jerry!
It felt like such a Kaufmany highwire act and I kept thinking how weird it was to have no idea what was going to happen next.
There were definitely people who were into it (me) and just wanting to see how far they would take it, but the by-a-large-number majority of the crowd was literally angry with them. My wife’s final take on it was: it would have been great if we weren’t paying for babysitting.
Then they finished the “set,” took about a ten minute break (removing almost any remaining goodwill; the opening act was instrumental, and the guy behind me said, “We have yet to hear one single word sung”) and then came back on and killed (unless you were one of the people who had been completely alienated, in which case they played for a while).
Image via Flickr.
Patrick Mortensen lives in Chicago because real estate. More of his writing can be found here and on his hard drive where it quietly waits rejection from the Quality Lit Game.