Monday, June 29, 2009

Sonic Youth Live: Saturday, June 27th 2009, Tour's Opening Night

As you may have guessed from an earlier post, I am a huge fan of Sonic Youth and I had the great pleasure to see them kick off their latest U.S. tour at the Vic Theatre in Chicago. They were, at the very least, incendiary. Not since seeing the Stooges reunion tour have a seen such a focused fury from rock elder statesmen.

Now a five-piece (again), with former Pavement bassist Mark Ibold in tow this time, Kim Gordon had the freedom to rock the mic, dance, or even play guitar instead of just bass duties. She demonstrated much more showmanship than in the past when she was hampered by her instrument, and Ibold's presence live, as well as on the latest record, allowed that.

Gordon, with husband and guitarist Thurston Moore, guitar guru Lee Ranaldo, classic punk rock drummer Steve Shelley, and Ibold rattled off 10 of the 12 new tracks from The Eternal including the raucous "Sacred Trickster," and future classic "No Way," along with what Moore referred to as "hits" like EVOL's "Tom Violence," and "Bull In The Heather," from 1994's Experimental Jet Set and No Star. Unlike most bands their age, Sonic Youth doesn't revel in the past so much. Their preference is to show they've still got teeth and plenty of bite left. The beauty of them as a band is that even though they're coming up on 30 years together, they still feel as though there is some, er, sonic landscape that they have yet to explore and mine. Even when delving into the back catalog, what they pull out are more hidden gems like "The Sprawl," and "Hey Joni," from 1988's Daydream Nation instead of the more obvious "Teen Age Riot," or "Silver Rocket,". The complete omission of 1990's Goo was a tad upsetting. They also played no tracks recorded in the previous 13 years, preferring instead to go all the way back to "The World Looks Red," from 1983's Confusion Is Sex and Sister's "Pacific Coast Highway," was another very welcome surprise.

The old tunes fit in really well with the predominantly new set, proving that Sonic Youth is just as vital and viral today as any other day in their history. It was an honor to be a part of such a small piece of it.

The Setlist

  1. Sacred Trickster
  2. No Way
  3. Poison Arrow
  4. Calming The Snake
  5. Tom Violence
  6. Malibu Gas Station
  7. Antenna
  8. Leaky Lifeboat (For Gregory Corso)
  9. Hey Joni
  10. Anti-Orgasm
  11. Massage The History
  12. Pacific Coast Highway
  13. What We Know
  14. The Sprawl
  15. Bull In The Heather
  16. The World Looks Red

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