Out and About

Yo La Tengo, a.k.a. the Buckminster Fuller Band

How often do you go to the movies, hear a live band, and learn about a fascinating, visionary design icon, all at the same time?

By Kristin Belz September 11, 2012


Documentaries have something of a reputation for being, well, serious, and perhaps a bit boring, depending on your movie tastes. After all, they’re supposed to be “interesting,” and you’re supposed to “learn something” from them. But what about a documentary that consists of still and moving pictures being described by the filmmaker, in the flesh, telling stories,  and live musicians playing original tunes composed specifically to complement the visuals? 

It's a thoroughly modern mash-up, mixing visuals controlled by the narrator from a laptop (think PowerPoint, but not boring), with a score provided by a live band, like the in-house orchestra that would have accompanied a silent picture in the pre-talkie days. And for one night only, September 12, 2012, it's what's happening at Washington High School, as part of the TBA Festival. Check it out.

Sam Green is the filmmaker, Yo La Tengo is the band. It's a night not to be missed. We'll have a review in Culturephile afterward, but go see – and hear – for yourself.

"The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller" debuted earlier this year at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, which commissioned it as part of the Fuller exhibit they mounted. Here's director Sam Green with "house band" Yo La Tengo, performing at the debut.

Filmmaker Green is interested in the communal aspects of movie-watching – something of a lost art in this era of streaming digital on your smart phone or watching DVDs in a "home theater." He, his laptop, and Yo La Tengo have performed their piece a few times by now (including September 11 in Seattle). Green expects the show will vary in "vibe" and even content depending on its venue. He wants to tailor each performance to the host city if possible, in keeping with Fuller's sensitivity to local places.

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