now for something i haven’t done here before - a non-word-of-the-day post.
As anyone who likes going to rock shows in the NYC area can tell you, Maxwell’s in Hoboken is closing this week. This venue is quite significant to me personally, as I had many memorable nights there, not the least of which was the night I met my wife. I won’t go into that right now, but there is one story I wanted to share before this institution is laid to rest.
I’m not totally sure what year it was. My best guess is 2001, but it could have been a year or 2 later. Yo La Tengo was playing the 3rd night of their annual Hanukkah residency. This is a band that I have listened to obsessively since I was a teen, and I was beyond excited to be seeing them in such a small room.
I arrived a little early with some friends and got a drink while the opening band played. To my surprise, Georgia (YLT’s drummer) was working the merch table. It wasn’t very crowded yet, so I walked over and said hi. I mentioned that “Blue Line Swinger” was one of my all-time favorite songs (still is) and said, “I’ll buy a t-shirt if you guys play it tonight”. She smiled and apologized. “I’m sorry, we played it the last couple nights and were gonna switch it up tonight. We don’t like to repeat our sets too much since some people come to several shows.” As disappointing as it was to hear, I appreciated the motivation behind it. “I understand”, I said, “I think I’ll take a shirt anyway”. I wished her my best, took my shirt, and walked over to get a good spot for their set.
They played an awesome show, roaring through one great song after another. It was a long-ish set, followed by a several song encore. The last song ended, everyone applauded, they walked offstage, and the crowd started to disperse.
And then Georgia walked back on stage, followed by the rest of the band. She sat behind her drum set, pulled the mic close and said “we’re gonna play one more for the guy who bought the t-shirt”. And they closed the show with what I swear was a 20-min long version of Blue Line Swinger.
Best concert moment ever. Thanks Yo La Tengo. Thanks Maxwells.