It took until the very end of Yo La Tengo's set at the 9:30 club Friday for the band to get energized. "You're Gonna Miss Me" closed the show, and it showed what this back-to-basics foursome is capable of -- frantic vocals from front man Ira Kaplan, pushed by lead guitarist Kevin Salem, made the angry heartache of the song believable.
Salem's curious Telecaster noodling, reminiscent of Television's Richard Lloyd, provided the spark for most of the set. His soloing was especially inspired on "The Summer" and "Yellow Sarong," the latter a cover, originally done by the Scene Is Now. Georgia Hubley played a stripped-down drum kit while standing up, with just a snare, floor tom and cymbals. It was a nice idea, but she played with brushes instead of sticks, and with her light touch only the snare was audible. Stand-up bassist Wilbo Wright added a warmth to the whole sound mix, though he too was a bit quiet.
When Hubley took over the lead vocals on "Tried So Hard" and "What Can I Say," it provided the only variation in an otherwise monochromatic set. Her breathy voice seemed just about to veer off-key much of the time, but didn't, hanging on with winsome sincerity.