Yo La Tengo are currently on tour (grab tickets here) in support of their latest album, This Stupid World, and during their latest stop in Nashville, band members Ira Kaplan and James McNew performed in drag in apparent protest of a recently passed Tennessee law banning drag shows in public.
Kaplan and McNew returned to the stage after a brief intermission dressed in drag for their second set on Monday, March 13th. Kaplan wore a sleeveless red dress and donned a long black wig, while McNew added a shawl and a sun hat to his ensemble. Drummer Georgia Hubley didn’t make an outfit change.
According to The Tennessean, the band didn’t explicitly acknowledge the new law, which goes into effect on April 1st. The legislation bans drag shows and other “adult cabaret” performances on public properties and other places where they could be watched by minors (It’s worth noting this was an 18 and up show at The Basement East). However, their intent seems pretty clear. See fan-shot photos of Yo La Tengo wearing drag below.
A few weeks ago, Bonnaroo issued a statement explicitly addressing the Tennessee drag ban. “Bonnaroo has and always will be a place for inclusivity, a safe haven for people of all walks of life, and a champion of self-expression,” the festival said. “Rest assured The Farm will remain a sanctuary for those freedoms and Bonnaroovians will see no changes in programming or celebration of self-expression at the festival.”
Yo La Tengo’s tour continues tonight with a second show at The Basement East before going on to Philadelphia, Brooklyn, Chicago, and more. After that, the indie rock trio will head out on the UK and Europe leg of the trek. Tickets are available now via StubHub, where orders are 100% guaranteed through Stubhub’s FanProtect program.
Ira and James playing in drag yesterday in Tennessee, in response to the anti-drag bill that passed just some weeks ago.
Yo La Tengo for president, someone said at Yellowjackets, and I agree.
[Photo by Chris Conrad, via FB] pic.twitter.com/Za6LTr2Jie
— Ethel Baraona Pohl (@ethel_baraona) March 14, 2023
yo la tengo protesting anti-drag laws tonight in tennessee, courtesy @JohnQBoxler. pic.twitter.com/kB6IvqUeZXAdvertisement
— jesse jarnow (parody, i think?) (@bourgwick) March 14, 2023