Yo La Tengo Hanukkah Shows: Final 2!


Brumpster Rob Harvilla trudged out to Hoboken last Thursday night. His “Menorah report” is here. Yr blog editor went a couple nights too. Below is a photo from opening night in which James McNew tried to put beads on my head and instead of leaning over, I took a picture. Blinded, he grinned, “Thanks for the aneurysm.” Please revoke my Movable Type privileges.

Jesse Jarnow, on the other hand, went all eight nights.

Hanukkah With Yo La Tengo: Monday and Tuesday

The Covers, the Special Guests, the Mix CDs

by Jesse Jarnow

Monday, December 10th
Opener: The New Pornographers (minus Neko Case and Dan Bejar)
Comedian: Andy Blitz as “Peanut Butter”
Covers: Black Flag’s “TV Party” (as “Dreidel Party”), NRBQ’s “Magnet,” George McCrea’s “You Can Have It All,” Randy Newman’s “Have You Seen My Baby,” the Flamin’ Groovies’ “High Flyin’ Baby,” “Teenage Head,” “Slow Death.”
Mix: Yoshitomo Nara
Special guests: John Wurster (Superchunk), Bruce Bennett (the A-Bones), Roy Loney (Flamin’ Groovies)
Charity: African Services Committee

“I understand Led Zeppelin’s menorah totally sucks,” says Kaplan, in a brief pep talk after the replacement fails. The situation does not dim the band’s desire to rock, however, and they open with Black Flag’s immortal “Dreidel Party.” A pair of elegiac set-pieces from And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out—”Everyday” and “Saturday,” the latter accompanied by Hubley’s delay pedal glitch textures and Superchunk drummer Jon Wurster—provide counterweights to the fairly literal “Mushroom Cloud of Hiss.” There, because her husband (already on his knees) clearly needed help making noise, Hubley emerges from the drums mid-jam to pick up a guitar and add another layer of feedback. “You Can Have It All,” in a not particularly successful Sun Ra chant rearrangement, is a quizzical respite before the arrival of band chum Bruce Bennett and Flamin’ Groovies singer Roy Loney. Bennett pogos his guitar strap off halfway through Randy Newman’s “Have You Seen My Baby,” is helped back into it, and resumes pogoing. Shortly, after Loney has sung of a “teenage sex machine” and being “a child of atom bombs and rotten air and Vietnams,” the Nuggetsy singer ends up on the stage floor, spazzing and twisting. Kinda like a dreidel.

Tuesday, December 11th
Opener: Times New Viking
Comedian: David Cross as Ira’s rabbi
Covers: Gary “U.S.” Bonds’ “Seven Day Weekend” (sung as “Eight Day Weekend”), Mel Brooks’ “Love Power,” The Crossfires’ “One Potato, Two Potato,” Michael Brown’s “Love Song in the Night,” T-Rex’s “Metal Guru,” The Turtles’ “She’d Rather Be With Me.”
Mix: Ira Kaplan
Special guests: Beth Murphy (Times New Viking), Howard Kaylan (The Turtles/Flo & Eddie)
Charity: Fortune Society/Northeast Council of the Wrongfully Convicted

The gig the nerds awaited. After David Cross opens in Hasidic rabbi gear, the band bookend the set with two of their headiest jams: “Night Falls on Hoboken” (which begins as a pastoral hum and disintegrates imperceptibly) and “Blue Line Swinger” (which tumbles in similar slow motion from fills into a fully realized beat and a formal accleration towards mayhem). In between there are stunning, semi-a capella Beach Boys harmonies on an ultra-rare tune (“Paul Is Dead”), and an aching rearrangement of an old favorite due to a malfunctioning Farfisa (“Autumn Sweater”). And, after, there is a song from The Producers, “Love Power,” at the end of which Kaplan freaks out. “The candles fill me up with so much love power!” he screams/explains, of the fully armed and operational menorah, eight bulbs somewhat miraculously burning bright. The Turtles’ still charismatic Howard Kaylan comes out, too, and it’s only a meek bummer that they dust off footnotes like the Crossfires’ “One Potato, Sweet Potato” (included on Todd-O-Phonic’s mix earlier in the week) instead of the obvious, big harmonied “Happy Together.” Because it sure looks like Yo La Tengo are.

Yes, Jesse Jarnow went every night. A recap of the previous six nights is here.

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