Members of Yo La Tengo ditched their “Autumn Sweater” on Monday in Nashville in favor of something a little more relevant, with Ira Kaplan and James McNew performing in drag. The concert at the Basement East came weeks after Tennessee Governor Bill Lee passed a law banning drag performances in public spaces.

Following a brief set break, Kaplan and McNew returned to the stage and performed the second half of the show in drag. Guitarist/vocalist Ira Kaplan wore makeup, a red dress, and a long black wig while bassist James McNew donned a shawl and a sun hat. Drummer Georgia Hurley‘s outfit remained unchanged from the first set. Though the band did not explicitly mention Governor Lee or the new drag ban, Yo La Tengo did (perhaps coyly) open the second set with the title track to its new album, This Stupid World.

The new law, which goes into effect on April 1st, bans drag shows and other “adult cabaret” performances from public areas and places where they could be observed by minors. It is worth noting that Yo La Tengo’s show at the Basement East was 18 and up. The band returns tonight, March 14th, for its second of two shows in Nashville.


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This news comes after the landmark Tennessee festival Bonnaroo released a statement on the drag show ban. Organizers of the festival promised that it will remain a safe space for “people of all walks of life.”

“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,” festival organizers said in the statement. “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.”