Live: M. Ward And Yo La Tengo Enjoy The (Relative) Silence At Prospect Park

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Yo La Tengo (with its limited-edition lineup).
M. Ward w/Yo La Tengo, Wyatt Cenac
Celebrate Brooklyn! at Prospect Park Bandshell
Tuesday, August 7

Better than: Having your appendix removed (get well soon, absent Yo La Tengo bassist James McNew).

There was a quiet in the air as I approached the Prospect Park Bandshell, home of the Celebrate Brooklyn! concert series. The crowd gathered outside the gates was gently folding blankets and Instagramming pictures of their ticket stubs, enveloped in a hush that would act as a precursor to a night of subdued laughs and whispered words.

The Daily Show's Wyatt Cenac wore a black t-shirt and cargo shorts, contributing to the evening's understated tone. I have seen him a bunch of times around town, and even while playing to an outdoor crowd, many of whom were still finding their seats when he hit the stage, he had an uncanny ability to hold the audience. On the occasion that his jokes go slightly adrift, he reels it back in with the perfect line (like his description of a cheap lightsaber knock-off as a "shine stick"). The audience did, however, balk slightly at his mention of the Brooklyn Target, which—well, allow me to express my feelings about this reaction in a formal letter:

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Q&A: Big Day Coming Author Jesse Jarnow Gets Personal With Yo La Tengo

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Matthew Salacuse
WFMU DJ, music journalist and frequent Voice contributor Jesse Jarnow has just released Big Day Coming: Yo La Tengo and the Rise of Indie Rock (Gotham), a voluminous tome that dissects Hoboken's finest Amerindie pioneers' journey from their childhood beginnings all the way to their current place as ageless innovators.

Big Day Coming isn't just distinguished from the rest of the rock-bio pack by Jarnow's bottomless pit of Yo La Tengo expertise; his book also delves into a comprehensive history of the beloved Hoboken rock club/restaurant Maxwell's. YLT's husband/wife team, guitarist Ira Kaplan and drummer Georgia Hubley, played their very first show there, and the venue plays host to their storied Hanukkah shows.

Sound of the City caught up with Jarnow to talk about how he came to discover his favorite band and, eventually, to write Big Day Coming.

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The Oral History Of Kid Millions' Man Forever: "A Cross Between Metal Machine Music And 'Dare to Be Stupid'"

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Joshua Bright
Kid Millions is juggling a shitload of action. The drummer extraordinaire just played another epic gig this past weekend with Oneida, the psych-rock jamming savants he's anchored since 1997. Man Forever, the bohemian collective of shape shifters he's united to realize his percussive-based spiritual vision, releases Pansophical Cataract (Thrill Jockey) this week; the group is also making killer videos and even throwing a hilarious, but dead serious, contest where you can actually be a member, at least for one performance.

Sound of the City caught up with a glorious bevy of Kid Millions' Man Forever collabbers and friends in honor of the new record, and tomorrow night's gig at (Le) Poisson Rouge). (Kid himself is absent; on the day the Voice and he were supposed to spiel, he experienced the misfortune of dropping his phone in the toilet at WFMU. Read our June 2011 interview with him here.)

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Live: Lambchop And Yo La Tengo Bring The Quiet To (Le) Poisson Rouge

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Lambchop w/ Yo La Tengo
(Le) Poisson Rouge
Thursday, April 19


Better than: A slow, sensuous makeout session, punctuated by the occasional slow, sensuous yawn, which ideally is taken more as a sign of relaxation than boredom, but whatever, stop reading so much into it.

Well here unfolded a lovely surprise: Last night's opener Charlie Horse was none other than Yo La Tengo, flying under the music-snob radar, here to celebrate their "favorite holiday: the day Lambchop comes to New York." Georgia, Ira and James offered up a beautifully mumbled set—Georgia using brushes on the drums throughout--in a nod to the headliner's unnaturally restrained palette. By the end they had added Lambchop's pianist for color, remaining rather muted all the same.

While packed with tables and standing fans, (Le) Poisson Rouge demonstrated a mature silence throughout the night: someone might have been severely shushed, had they dared to make a sound. But the scene was rapt, frozen, vulnerable only to a smattering of whispers that often managed to seem, if not part of the show, an appropriate peripheral event.

Yo La Tengo rounded out their performance with plenty of crowd-pleasers: a Kinks cover; a tribute to Art Jenkins, of the Sun Ra Arkestra, who had passed away that day; an acoustic take on "Sugarcube" and a sultry roll through "Our Way To Fall." The songs got recognized and applauded at the first bars; it was clear that this sector of subtle-rock connoisseurs knew what luck this was.

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Six New York Acts That The Mets Should Consider For Future Post-Game Concerts

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That's dedication right there.
As the baseball season nears, the announcements of the season's schedule of promotions steadily increases, and over the weekend the Mets announced that for their 50th anniversary they'd be throwing a three-show postgame concert series in 2012. The lineup: the hesher-pop outfit REO Speedwagon (June 15), powerpop titans Cheap Trick (July 20), and the religious post-grunge outfit MercyMe (August 10). The bands are from Champaign, Illinois; Rockford, Illinois; and Greenville, Texas, respectively. That's right—there are no New York bands on the bill, which seems quite silly given that this city is crawling with musically inclined fans of the team and even has a DIY venue named after the Mets' former home. To that end, here are six New York-based acts who might not mind having the 2012 version of the Metropolitans as their opening act. Perhaps those of us who feel passionate enough about this issue can organize a trip to this season's triumphant return of Banner Day (May 27!) in order to lobby for one or all or these choices?

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Live: Yo La Tengo Light The Menorah At Maxwell's One More Time


Lee Ranaldo & Steve Shelley w/Yo La Tengo, "Mote"

Yo La Tengo: Hanukkah Shows
Maxwell's
December 20-27


Better than: Christmas.

Hanukkah doesn't technically end until sundown Wednesday, but Yo La Tengo unplugged their electric menorah at Maxwell's last night, just after a post-midnight sign-off where Ira Kaplan's mother sang "My Little Corner of the World." Despite the junior Kaplan's recent (unspecified) health scare that left him confined to a bar stool for this year's series of Hanukkah shows, his band's sets seemed more expansive than ever, spilling between relaxed arrangements, deeper-than-usual noise jams (bassist James McNew has been moonlighting with Kid Millions' Man Forever), Georgia Hubley ballads, indie pop, and covers—and Bobcat Goldthwait was there, too.

This year, the band played some 134 different songs over Hanukkah; the set lists included the usual tour through its 27-year back catalogue, tunes by great Jewish songwriters (number of Velvet Underground songs this year: somehow only 3), and appearances by ex-YLT roommates (Maxwell's co-owner Todd Abramson on "The Aba Dabba Do Dance"; WFMU DJ Gaylord Fields growling through "My Little Red Book"). But the stunt guitarists—recruited quickly as back-up for Kaplan—were this year's main attraction. Though Superchunk founder Mac McCaughan took most of the leads on opening night, it was soon obvious that the extra players were there to jam, not substitute for Kaplan, who seemed mostly at full strength, minus the occasional charge at the amp.


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Yo La Tengo's Eight Nights Of Hanukkah Will Again Take Place Over (Yes) The Eight Nights Of Hanukkah

Categories: Yo La Tengo

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Which is a sort of snarky way of saying that tickets for this year's Eight Nights of Hannukah celebration go on sale tomorrow at noon. For those unfamiliar with the tradition, every year Yo La Tengo brings together a bunch of friends whose identities "will not be divulged until the last possible moment" together for eight shows to celebrate the festival of lights. Guests usually include musicians (everyone from David Byrne to Sun Ra), comics (Sarah Silverman, David Cross, Todd Barry, etc.), and all-around cool people (Robert Sietsma!), and every cent of profit goes towards local charities and institutions. Tickets are going at 35 dollars per show—pick them up at the band's website or at Other Music in Manhattan or Tunes in Hoboken.

Live: Yo La Tengo (and David Byrne! and Glenn Mercer!) Come Together For Japan at Maxwell's

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David Byrne and Yo La Tengo care. All photos by Jesse Jarnow.
Yo La Tengo
Maxwell's
Wednesday, March 23

Better than: Sitting home alone fretting about cataclysmic awfulness.

It's been 26 years since Yo La Tengo played every Wednesday at Maxwell's, and a last-minute benefit for Peace Winds Japan had the trio sounding very much like a neighborhood band again. Not that they don't normally anyway, but the familial mellowness was so palpable that it was easy to forget their other life as heavy cultural touchstones. Maybe it was because they left the vintage Acetone and Farfisa at home. But even the appearance of David Byrne in pinstriped overalls (and a bright white wristwatch) singing a new ballad about Imelda Marcos didn't read as too far out of the ordinary. Every neighborhood needs an eccentric.

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Yo La Tengo Are Playing A Benefit For Japan at Maxwell's This Wednesday; Tickets On Sale at 10 a.m.

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Yo La Tengo at Maxwell's in December. Photo by Liz Clayton.
We'd heard rumors of this last week, and yesterday, the band made it official--Hoboken humanitarians and all around good humans Yo La Tengo will be playing a hastily organized benefit for Japan this Wednesday at Maxwell's. Tickets are $50 (buy them here starting at 10 a.m.), but every cent, including the fees, goes to Peace Winds Japan. From the group's announcement:

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A Huge Big Star Tribute, Starring Folks From R.E.M, Teenage Fanclub, And Yo La Tengo, Is Coming To Town Next Month

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Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers is quite possibly the most beloved power-pop album of all time, and certainly the most poignantly morose, a heartbreaking state only exacerbated by frontman Alex Chilton's death last year. Now comes word of a full-album live tribute with a crazy all-star cast, all trying their damndest to turn "Holocaust" into a celebration.

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