Yo La Tengo

Thursday, June 10; Mississippi Nights

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There's a void in the universe, a vacuum that has been left empty for the past few years: We need a New Dylan. Sure, the Old Dylan is still kicking (and God love him for that), but it seems that we, the International Order of Music Writers, have let the New Dylan mantle go cold. Past bearers like Bruce Springsteen, Jeff Buckley and Conor Oberst have finished their tenure -- so who'll be the next in line?

A proposition: Yo La Tengo is the New Dylan (or is that "are the New Dylans"?). How could this indie-rock trio fill Dylan's boots? First, consider the role Bob Dylan plays at this point in his career. He's so established, he owns the damn establishment and all of its satellite locations. He can do whatever he wants and his reputation remains unsullied. He tours nonstop, new record or not. Yo La Tengo has reached a similar summit in its career, not one of laurel-resting but one of freedom and innovation. And like Dylan, lead singer Ira Kaplan has the whole Jewish heritage thing going on, which is nice.

Yo La Tengo has nothing left to prove. The band has left an indelible imprint on independent rock, and not even a space-age operetta about enlightened despotism could change that. The band's most recent release is 2003's Today Is the Day EP, which means the band probably has something new and exciting up its collective sleeve. Of course, the live-show standards will also be in place. There will be guitar freakouts. There will be choreographed dancing. There will be song requests that routinely get denied. And where, friend, will you be? Revisiting Highway 61 for the umpteenth time? Come see Dylan's legacy, reconfigured and reborn.

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