It’s a Mitzvah! Yo La Tengo to Celebrate the Festival of Lights in Grand Style

I have no doubt the boys and girl of Yo La Tengo are cognizant of Judah the Maccabee’s miraculous revolt and victory against the Hellenistic Syrians around 165 B.C.E., and that, when the Temple was rededicated, the one cruse of sacramental oil miraculously burned for eight days. But methinks their decision to celebrate the “lesser” Jewish festival has less of a historical significance vibe to it and more of a gift-giving and pleasure-seeking motive. Yes, for the fifth time in seven years, Hoboken’s dearest will play eight days of shows at Maxwell’s in Hoboken at the beginning of December to celebrate the eight days of Hanukkah. The shows have become as much a holiday tradition as sitting around eating latkes and spinning the dreidel due to the motley nature of the band’s daily sets and the variety of the special guests that participate every night. Exactly who these guests will be this year will remain a mystery until they take to the stage. As the band explains on their website and MySpace page:

As in the past, each show will begin with an opening band, followed by some comedy, and then a Yo La Tengo set. And perhaps more. That’s all we’re going to tell you, so don’t ask who’s playing. We can guarantee that it’ll be great, and that no matter what night you’re there, you’ll wish you had come another night instead. That’s just the way you are; there’s nothing we can do about that.” Past musical and comedy acts have been heavy hitters (for example, 2005’s shows included sets by Tortoise, Sun Ra Arkestra, Half Japanese, Eugene Mirman, Demetri Martin, etc.) so if you don’t want to miss an historic concert just camp out in Maxwell’s dumpster and attend all eight days.

Yo La Tengo’s Hanukkah tenancy runs from the 24th of Kislev (December 4) to the 2nd of Tevet (December 11). Additionally, the band is playing the Manifest Festival in Mexico City this coming weekend, a one-off show in November with Broken Social Scene at Cornell University, and will play on stage with Buckwheat Zydeco on November 7 in New York in celebration of Todd Haynes’ forthcoming Dylan flick I’m Not There. And there’s also the “Freewheeling Yo La Tengo Tour” which continues in Philadelphia tonight. This tour is “a rare opportunity to see this ever-surprising band in a setting more intimate and interactive than any tour in their 23-year career. A little bit Storytellers, a little bit Unplugged, with a soupcon of their famously varied Hanukkah shows, it will feature the band playing an almost-acoustic set of songs from their entire catalog, with stories about their life as a band, and an encouraged back-and-forth with the audience. Already famous for never playing the same show twice, this fresh look at Yo La Tengo offers rare insight into one of the most important, unique, and beloved bands in American rock.

Couldn’t have said it better myself

10.22.07 - Philadelphia, PA - First Unitarian Church Sanctuary *#
10.23.07 - Alexandria, VA - The Birchmere *#
10.27.07 - Mexico City, Mexico - Manifest Festival
10.29.07 - Portland, OR - The Aladdin Theater *
10.30.07 - Seattle, WA - Town Hall *$
11.01.07 - San Francisco, CA - Palace of Fine Arts *%
11.03.07 - Hollywood, CA - Ivar Theatre *
11.04.07 - La Jolla, CA - Museum of Contemporary Art, Sherwood Auditorium *
11.07.07 - New York, NY - Beacon Theatre (playing with Buckwheat Zydeco) +
11.10.07 - North Adams, MA - MASS MoCA, Hunter Center *
11.11.07 - Ithaca, NY - Cornell University, Barton Hall ^
11.15.07 - Boston, MA - Museum of Fine Arts (2 shows, 6:30 & 9:30) *
12.04-11.07 Hoboken, NJ - Maxwell’s

* “The Freewheeling Yo La Tengo Tour,”
# Jack Rose

$ Sir Richard Bishop

% Jonathan Richman

+ I’m Not There: In Concert w/Calexico, Cat Power, The Roots, My Morning Jacket, J Mascis, and many more

^ Broken Social Scene