Yo La Tengo Hanukkah Night 4: Half Japanese, John Hodgman, more (review, setlist)
We’re halfway through the triumphant return of Yo La Tengo‘s Hanukkah shows, which have been happening at NYC’s Bowery Ballroom. For the fourth night of Hanukkah, Ira, Georgia and James welcomed very old friends Half Japanese as openers, and it was an all-star version of Jad Fair’s band: nine-strong, including three drummers, DC/NYC indie rock legend Don Fleming, and Ira on sax. Jad cracked a few jokes as they were setting up and then cracked his cheapo guitar in half midway through the set.
John Hodgman was the comedian for the night who talked about how he’s only really famous to crowds like this, accepting his middle age, and Maine humor, before breaking out a ukulele to cover The Modern Lovers’ “Roadrunner.”
Then it was time for Yo La Tengo, who performed a few songs on their own — including a lovely new song Georgia sang called “Shades of Blue” that will be on their new album, coming next year — before welcoming Jad Fair back out for a few songs. After that they brought out Don Fleming and Jay Spiegel, who were both part of Half Japanese but here Ira had them revisit one of their other groups, the sleazy psych rock lounge riffers Velvet Monkeys, by performing the “Velvet Monkeys Theme Song.” Don and Jay stuck around for a cover of The Velvet Underground’s “Run Run Run.” The main set ended with the krauty, hypnotic 10-minute-plus “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind.”
For the encore, the night’s special guest was New Wave/power-pop great Marshall Crenshaw, who some may remember featured in YLT’s “Tom Courtenay” video (where he played off his days of being a touring member of musical Beatlemania). He sang his own “You’re My Favorite Waste of Time” and then they covered two PF Sloan songs, followed by a cover of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over” (Marshal called it the “Hank Kingsley Theme”), and finished with Marshall’s minor hit “Whenever You’re On My Mind” (sadly, no “Someday, Someway”). The full setlist (via Jesse Jarnow as always) and a few pics and videos are below.
The night’s mix CD was made by John McEntire and proceeds of the evening went to CHiPS. It was a super fun evening. Who will be the surprise guests for Hanukkah Night 5 tonight? Jeff Tweedy perhaps? Tickets for tonight and the rest of the run are still availble.
SETLIST: Yo La Tengo Hanukkah Night 4 @ Bowery Ballroom 12/15/2017
new song #3 (sung by Georgia, “Shades of Blue”)
Don’t Have To Be So Sad
Attack on Love (with Jad Fair on guitar)
Circus Strongman Runs For PTA President (with JF on vocals)
Principal Punishes Students With Bad Impressions and Tired Jokes (with JF on vocals)
Velvet Monkey Theme Song (Velvet Monkeys) (with Don Fleming on guitar/vocals and Jay Spiegel on floor tom/snare)
Run Run Run (Velvet Underground) (with DF & JS)
Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Goodkind
with Marshall Crenshaw on guitar/vocals
You’re My Favorite Waste of Time (Marshall Crenshaw)
Take Me For What I’m Worth (P.F. Sloan)
A Must To Avoid (P.F. Sloan/Steve Barri)
Don’t Dream It’s Over (Neil Finn)
Whenever You’re On My Mind (Marshall Crenshaw)