A favorite topic of bad talk radio here in the motor city is "things you want to do before you die." Every few months those wacky morning drive-time jocks pull out this nugget and take calls from dudes who want to skydive or visit every Major League Baseball park in a single season or play eighteen holes with Tiger Woods.
Me, I'd like to experience, just once, Yo La Tengo's annual eight-night Hanukkah celebration at Maxwell's in Hoboken. That's right, all eight nights, live and in person. Of course on any two given consecutive nights, Yo La Tengo offers setlists so surprising, spontaneous, and varied that they make the Grateful Dead look like Hannah Montana. I've seen the band cover Devo and Fleetwood Mac, segue from twenty-minute psychedelic jams to ninety-second punk anthems, and take audience requests that span the group's deep catalogue of originals.
But by all accounts, the Hannukah concerts showcase the band's most sublime sides. They wear costumes. They cook up theme sets (the other night they put together an homage to great Jewish punk songwriters). They bring along guests (Sun Ra! Fred Armisen! Marc Arm of Mudhoney fame!).
Sorry Tiger Woods, I'll pass on the eighteen holes in favor of eight crazy nights with Yo La Tengo. Maybe someday when I'm living a life of leisure (read: if I ever have a fall sabbatical and hence am not knee-keep in student papers come Hannukah time) I'll make it happen.