I saw Sonic Youth this week at Berkeley Community Theater. It's weird to attend shows that take place on a high school campus. Previously, the most exciting rock act I saw in a high school auditorium was when two guys who supposedly used to play with Carlos Santana drummed at our school's Multicultural Assembly. The assembly also included Filipino kids jumping over sticks, Irish dancing, and probably a lot of stuff that reflected Pleasant Hill's widespread cultural diversity.
The band played the classic "Daydream Nation" album in its entirety, as part of the Don't Look Back series. That meant they played my favorite song first, Teen Age Riot", but the rest of the show was not a letdown. I wrote some notes about Sonic Youth the Hedgehog, and "Daydream Nation" being an elaborate allegory for Dr. Robotnik's rise to power, but I will spare my readers that tedium.
When he found out I was attending the show, my friend asked, "Aren't they like 40 now?" Try 50, buddy. At this stage in their career, the band is more aptly known as Sonic Middle Aged. But they rocked pretty hard, considering Kim Gordon is the same age as my mom. I think I was unfair to her singing in my Pearl Jam review, because I quite enjoyed it this time. The lesson is, I don't especially like new Sonic Youth songs, but that isn't Kim Gordon's fault. I like Nico, so can I truly say it bothers me when a female vocalist can't exactly sing?
There were two enthused fans that were constantly shooed out of the aisle by our ushers, for not having tickets and for spastic dancing. We called them, Frog Man and the Wizard. Frog Man spent his time leaping in the air from a crouch and bumping into people, while The Wizard opted for a dance that was part epileptic seizure, part cardio kickboxing. The Wizard had long white hair and a long white beard, kind of like if Dumbledore had spent the 60's taking acid and reading Rolling Stone instead of learning spellcraft. At one magical moment, The Wizard grabbed Frog Man's shoulders and began dance-leaping behind him. If they were Transformers, this would have been the moment they combined to form Spazatron.
After they finished "Daydream Nation", Sonic Youth did two encores, playing new songs. Thurston Moore facetiously claimed they were going to do "Sticky Fingers" in its entirety instead, which would have been awesome, but everyone would have missed BART. They also brought out Pavement's bass player to help out, freeing Kim to do more dancing.
My companion, Emalie, wanted to hear "Sugar Kane", and I wanted to hear their cover of "Superstar", but the show ended with them again savaging reality television with "What a Waste". We weren't disappointed, but we heard a peeved indie snob complaining on the way out, "If they really wanted to go into the back catalog, they could have at least done "Youth Against Fascism". Then he snorted, zipped up his hoodie, and stomped away into the Berkeley night.
Since SY didn't play them at the show, here's "Sugar Kane" and "Superstar":