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Score! Yo La Tengo heads to Miami Beach

When Sam Green delivers his documentary "The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller" on Saturday at the Colony Theatre, he'll be accompanied by the band Yo La Tengo, the indie-rock band that he admits has "nothing in common" with the futurist, architect and inventor of the geodesic dome.

"I discovered them through this underwater science documentary by Jean Painlevé that [Yo La Tengo] scored. It was one of the three or four best cinematic experiences I've ever had," Green recalls, speaking from his editing studio in Brooklyn. "There's a kind of very sweet melancholy to [Yo La Tengo's] sound, and Fuller was a man who had very high hopes and ambitions, a lot of which didn't come to pass."

The sonically adventurous career of Yo La Tengo began in December 1984 and includes 13 albums, the most recent of which is 2013's "Fade," as well as scores for the films "Shortbus" and "Adventureland." (R. Buckminster Fuller died in 1983.) Green says it wasn't difficult to convince the Hoboken, N.J., trio of guitarist Ira Kaplan, drummer Georgia Hubley and bassist James McNew to score the saga of Fuller, the second Mensa president and ideologist who championed "doing more with less."

"His basic idea was there were more than enough resources for people to lead wonderful lives, but war and famine existed because we don't distribute wealth and resources wisely," Green says. "But Ira didn't know anything about him. Neither did I, at first. I just knew him as the 'dome guy.' They just loved playing music live in an unconventional format."

As Green's documentary about R. Buckminster Fuller screens, the director will be standing onstage, providing narration and cuing clips, while members of Yo La Tengo play their instruments at stage right.

"It's sort of a lecture-performance, but it's not just free jazz we're doing. Some of it is improvised," Green says.

Kaplan, reached at his home in Hoboken, says he met Green through his wife Georgia's sister Emily, an animation filmmaker with connections to the director of the Oscar-nominated documentary "The Weather Underground." He says Green would watch the band's rehearsals "intensively" and offer "snap judgments" on the material.

"It was kind of awkward, at first, that deep level of involvement [from Sam], but that's one of the challenges we enjoy the most," Kaplan recalls with a laugh. "I'm not so sure that we think in terms of 'melancholy music' or use those kinds of adjectives. We treated it like we were scoring another movie, learning on the go, because Sam was much more knowledgeable about Buckminster Fuller than we were. That's what was so cool about it."

Each performance varies by city, Kaplan says, and Green will recite trivia about the architect's influence in Miami, including the Miami Seaquarium's 55-foot-tall Golden Dome Stadium, designed by Fuller.

"[Fuller's] a super-fascinating character with intriguing quirks and huge ambitions, but he was also deeply insecure and an egomaniac," Green says. "It's been really fun collaborating with Yo La Tengo. They're such pros. I kind of feel like a fan tagging along."

Yo La Tengo will perform during a screening of "The Love Song of R. Buckminster Fuller" at 6:30 and 9:30 p.m. Saturday, March 22, at the Colony Theatre, 1040 Lincoln Road, in Miami Beach. Tickets for the show, presented by MDC Live Arts, cost $30 and $10 for Miami-Dade College students with ID. Call 305-674-1040 or go to

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