Trocadero Phiy, PA 04.21.01
As silly as it is to have to label music, say the words “indie rock” and you could have a
couple of different images enter your mind. Maybe it’s thick glasses and greasy hair,
maybe it’s the ideal of thumbing your nose at “mainstream” music, or maybe it’s Stephen
Malkmus. Whatever your interpretation, long before there was such a thing to interpret,
there was Sonic Youth. For better or worse, Sonic Youth is directly responsible for
today’s indie rock heroes. Without them, there may not have ever been the scene as we
know it today. So all you Pavement worshippers listen up…
Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley, and Thurston Moore have been providing the
real alternative to the mainstream for nearly 20 years now, and Saturday night’s show at
the Trocadero proved they still got it.
Drawing from nearly every album of their career, the band kicked out a solid set of old
favorites like “Kool Thing” and “Teen Age Riot” and newer epics like “Small Flowers
Crack Concrete” (from their latest effort NYC Ghosts and Flowers) which Thurston
dedicated to the recently fallen Joey Ramone. They even threw out “Tom Violence”, a
real oldie from way back, near the top of the set.
Perhaps it was the simple change of venue (the last time I saw the band they played the
Electric Factory where the sound is just awful) but it seemed to me that the band was in
top form this night which just made it all the more enjoyable. Thurston was thrashing all
over his side of the stage like a man possessed, occasionally taking a few minutes to beat
the hell out of his guitar; Kim was pogoing and gyrating like some avant-garde go-go
dancer; Lee was conjuring the most disgusting sounds from his arsenal of guitars; and
Steve was just doing his best to keep everything anchored (and did a damn good job!).
Sonic Youth are notorious for having several forests worth of guitars and other
equipment personally “customized” to get their patented sound. When most of that
equipment was stolen a while ago, the future of the band looked a little uncertain.
However, all that worrying was for nothing because the band is, in the words of David
Byrne, the “same as it ever was”. Maybe even better. Saturday night’s show was one of
the best I’ve seen in a long time. The band was energetic and seemed to truly enjoy being
there (Lee started to laugh after breaking a few strings mid-song), and the playing was
tight and well orchestrated but free flowing. And what would a Sonic Youth show be
without everything eventually disintegrating into waves of messy noise? They didn’t
disappoint there either, letting everything feedback for a good 10 minutes after the
encore. Even that was mesmerizing.
Bottom line: A great show, definitely worth the money. Try to go see them as soon as
you can. You won’t regret it.
Written By: Tim B.