Yo La Tengo / Oneida / Paul F. Tompkins
Maxwell's; Hoboken, NJ

Yo La Tengo's Hanukkah shows are what you move to the East Coast for. Hundreds of miles from any centers of cultural importance, the very thought that you can show up at a nondescript club and be greeted with, as past celebrations have shown, comedian David Cross, a surprise set from The Clean, David Byrne singing songs from the Jewish canon, and some inspired guest playing with Yo La Tengo could make you combust

So, there's obviously a great deal besides Yo La Tengo themselves to chat about here, but I'd be a heel if I didn't first try to set right their unjustified reputation as a boring live band.

Even in the Hanukkah format, where the band is loose and engaging in varying levels of musical horseplay, they can still kick ass. Janet Weiss (Quasi, Sleater-Kinney, The Jicks) sat in for the entire set, creating a duo of female indie rock percussionists the likes of which the world may perhaps never witness again. The performance didn't hit full-throttle until they played "Sudden Organ," and damn -- Ira sure knows how to destroy a keyboard. They even managed to find a higher gear with main set closer/Beach Boys cover "Little Honda," where the whole band donned guitars for a few minutes in the middle, creating a holiday feedback wall for the ages.

Besides Yo La Tengo, though, Oneida played -- and they may have earned themselves a grudging fan in the process (see attached lyric sheet for evidence) -- followed by the comedy of Mr. Show's Paul F. Tompkins, whose stand up was completely overshadowed by his turn as Johnny Cash. Joining Yo La Tengo after their set, Tompkins hilariously managed to use the tune of "Ring of Fire" to give a gravelly and very detailed recounting of the Hanukkah story.

Oh, and Britt Daniel was there, too. Despite the magic of Hanukkah, it turns out it is still entirely possible to be blasé about Britt Daniel.

{Setlist} (via BrooklynVegan):

{Oneida lyric sheet:}

Photo: [Yo La Tengo]

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