Yo La Tengo / Ladybug / Transistor / David Cross / Sue Garner / Karen Kilgarrif Maxwell's, Hoboken NJ - December 2 and 5

Fan's band Yo La Tengo are also quite earnestly a band of fans. Known for special holiday performances, this year's road trip-worthy event was an eight-night Hannukah celebration at YLT stronghold Maxwell's. The almost nightly surprise guests turned out to be people like Ray Davies and Ronnie Spector — performers clearly invited for the band's own enjoyment as much as for the audience's. Tuesday's show was opened by the potty-mouthed David Cross, who unleashed a torrent of mostly funny semi-political rants supporting his recent double CD. Ladybug Transistor followed with a, pleasantly unmemorable yet very large multi-instrumental band, while Yo La Tengo were pleasantly good in that "eight gigs in a row can't all be mind-blowing" sort of way. The tides turned dramatically, however, when special guest David Byrne showed up to perform five unlikely songs with the band, including a thrilling version of Richard Hell and the Voidoids' "Love Comes in Spurts." Byrne also contributed a poignant falsetto backup (really, he sounded like a violin) to YLT's heartbreaking "Tears Are In Your Eyes" as well as a Lambchop cover. West Coast comedienne Karen Kilgariff opened Thursday's show with a poorly executed series of catty tirades against popular female musicians, as if that weren't shooting a fish in a barrel. To her credit, Kilgariff managed to pull off an inspired fantasy of Björk as President. Sue Garner performed a lonesome-sounding set of songs with her excellent full band, but even this strong performance quickly faded from view in the glow of Yo La Tengo's stunning set, illuminated by the accompaniment of former member Dave Schramm. As fans might fantasise, this set was heavy on glistening guitar-laden numbers from Fakebook, and left the audience swooning right up until the Kiss covers.