December 14, 2023

Yo La Tengo played The Bowery Ballroom (Hanukkah Night 7)

The penultimate night of Yo La Tengo's 2023 Hanukkah run was a showcase of what the band does best.

Diehard, committed music fans have plenty of options in New York City around the holidays to double down and see some of their favorite bands. There's Phish at Madison Square Garden, the recent LCD Soundsytem takeover of Brooklyn Steel (which has now expanded to two new boroughs), or Yo La Tengo's residency at Bowery Ballroom for every night of Hanukkah. It's a great time of year to be in the city and just like they've been doing since they first planned this customary holiday affair in Hoboken back in 2001, the trio of Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley, and James McNew continue to carry out their most beloved tradition with top-tire execution. Forever adopting the concept of never repeating a single song during the entire eight night run and bringing on a surprise opening band and comic each night, it proves to be a remarkable and memorable night no matter how deep your love for the band goes. Following an opening set from Foggy Notion, an incredible Velvet Underground cover band led by Steven Gunn, that lived up to the band's haywire set with killer purpose, David Sedaris' unmatched comedic timing that had the audience in stitches, Yo La Tengo made the seventh night of Hanukkah unique with the steady progression of the night that went from idyllic, acoustic-driven numbers to fully fledged rock songs complete with dazzling solos and euphoric moments of incendiary feedback. Featuring bangers like "Last Days of Disco" which covered the slow-building movements of the band's set before thrashing into their steadily-buzzing "Double Dare," which saw Kaplan really tear things apart with stunning vigor. As the night progressed, the band turned things up a notch as they continued to blast through squalls of noise which they mixed with their pristine melodies. For the encore, the band opened things up with a Carol King number before bringing Damon Krukowski and Naomi Wang of Galaxie 500 out for a stirring cover of Simon and Garfunkel's "The Boxer" which directly led into a rocking take of the Beastie Boy's iconic "Fight for Your Right (to Party)." Damon and Naomi were wonderful addition's to the band's core line-up and as they ended things with a blistering take on Galaxie 500's "Don't Let Our Youth Go to Waste," it was a blazing finish to the night. Bringing the feedback up to towering levels, it was a great sight of one of indie rock's most iconic slowcore act's treasures come to life. By now, the band's run over the holiday has become one of the more signature end of year experiences and time and time again, the band proves why it's turned into such a storied affair. If anything, the band's consistent greatness has made this one of the most rewarding and timeless events that always makes for something worthy of its legendary story.

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