For years Yo La Tengo’s Hanukkah shows were a holiday staple for festive souls in the New York City area. It didn’t take place every year, but quite often Ira, Georgia, and James would dedicate all 8 nights of the Jewish holiday to gigs at their home base, Maxwell’s in nearby Hoboken, New Jersey. Sometimes a musically inclined comedian like Todd Barry or Fred Armisen was spotted behind the drum kit.
Seeing as how it was Yo La Tengo doing the hosting, the shows would frequently feature surprise guest appearances to give the spectators a rare tingle. In 2002 David Byrne sang with the band, in 2007 it was Alex Chilton who supplied the extra-special treat. One time the guys from Mission of Burma showed up. When Maxwell’s saw new owners take over and cease hosting live music shows in 2013, the future of the shows was cast in doubt.
This year marks the first time in five years that YLT is playing their Hanukkah shows—the venue they have selected to carry the torch is the Bowery Ballroom (an excellent substitute IMO). Earlier this week Jeff Tweedy and his son Spencer joined the band, and last night Michael Shannon popped up onstage and delivered a predictably galvanizing rendition of “Ghost Rider” by Suicide. Armisen was helping out on the drums.
Due to his willingness to be strikingly weird, off-putting, or sinister, Shannon has become one of the main character actors of note over the last decade or so. He was nominated as Best Supporting Actor for his work in Revolutionary Road and Nocturnal Animals. He gained wider recognition as General Zod in the current DC franchise, and has also become associated with the movies of Jeff Nichols. I’ve been lucky enough to see Shannon in plays several times, and the man never disappoints.
Kudos to YLT and the gang for a great job interpreting a NYC punk classic.
via Andrea Feldman
Previously on Dangerous Minds:
Adorable Yo La Tengo dolls, designed by Jim Woodring!
There’s a Dr. Dreidel for Hanukkah