Sunday, July 22, 2007

Sonic Youth at the Greek Theatre

The last time I caught a Sonic Youth show was at Lollapalooza 1995 with Pavement, Beck, and Hum. I mainly went to see Pavement and Hum but remembered that Sonic Youth played a good set. I never got into Sonic Youth that much from a guitar perspective because I heard they used a bunch of alternate tunings and obscure pedals. I could not pass up the last minute chance for 5th row center tickets for Sonic Youth at the Greek performing Daydream Nation.

Red Kross opened the show by performing their debut album Born Innocent. They were stalwarts of the power pop rock Los Angeles scene and have many admirers from the scene. Some of the admirers included Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon who were behind the pit watching the whole set unnoticed. They are fronted by Scott and Jeff Mcdonald who were hopping around the stage. It was entertaining but I wasn't feeling it.

The iconic cover of Daydream Nation was the backdrop for the orchestral noise that Sonic Youth emitted. As if I didn't see enough Fender Jazzmasters at the Adam Franklin show, Thurston Moore(Vocals/Guitars) and Lee Renaldo(Guitars/Vocals) had the Fender Jazzmaster market cornered with a few racks of Fender goodies. I mentioned that Sonic Youth incorporate alternate tunings but only recently did I discover on their webpage a full section explaining the different tunings that everyone uses on the albums. A guitar is normally tuned as EADGBE. The song "Teenage Riot" is tuned to GABDEG. There is no way I would have figured that out back in the day. The problem with all these weird tunings is that it creates weird songs filled with dissonance. Sonic Youth use the dissonance as an aural paint and couple it with feedback to create a dense canvas. I was impressed with the recreation of Daydream Nation and will dust it off out of my collection but I tend to enjoy music that I can recreate on my guitar so Sonic Youth frustrates me sometimes. Thurston Moore still sounded great in the vocal department and pulled out his drumstick occasionally to bang on his guitars. Lee Renaldo also sounded good and made me wonder why he doesn't sing on more songs. One of the highlights from the show was when Thurston and Lee met in the center of the stage crossing both of their guitars and creating a whirlwind of feedback and noise. Another highlight was I realized that Steve Shelley(Drums) is one of the more underrated drummers in alternative rock. I was impressed that they pulled Mark Ibold(Ex-Pavement) out for the encore to help out on the bass duties. There was a ring of irony seeing him play with Sonic Youth instead of Pavement. It made me wistfully hope for a Pavement reunion though.

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