So, we saw Sonic Youth last night at the 9:30 Club. They were good; we were at the second of two sold-out shows and I’d guess a lot of the audience was repeaters. Except for the times when we were all focused on the woman in the opposite balcony who was first leaning over the railing in her bra, then getting in a fight with her (pretty obnoxious) boyfriend who was trying to control her, and then getting physically dragged out, we were all glued to the stage and happily nodding our heads in time. (We were old, tired, and in the balcony; plus, the band played some pretty mellow stuff.) The performance was solid; I suppose after sixteen albums and tours and thirty years of playing together you get to be pretty comfortable with each other. And, it was actually quite cool to see them produce all the funky sounds they’re known for, using their actual instruments rather than a Macbook.
Before this show, I hadn’t listened to Sonic Youth in fifteen years, and I’d definitely skipped all that 90s stuff (the phase when they became what someone called ‘more experimental’). Everything they played sounded vaguely familiar but I didn’t know any single song well enough to sing along; I don’t actually own any of their CDs despite recognizing their musical greatness. (If I hadn’t already lost my hipster card by not liking The White Stripes and finding The Mountain Goats to be atrocious, now would be the time for it to be recalled.) Which is to say, I can’t tell you what the set list was or how their live performance diverged from their studio recordings or whether the time that Kim had to swap out her instrument because she either broke a string or the tech brought the wrong one was a point when she was actually supposed to be playing.
You can, however, listen to the concert on NPR and answer all those questions for yourselves.