July 9, 2004 at 3:31 pm #47153
Sonic Youth, J Mascis @ Enmore Theatre, 18/6/04
Reported by: solo_stagediver – Saturday, Jun 19, 2004. 15:32
After an absence of six years, Sonic Youth finally returned to our shores to dazzle us with their unique brand of noise experimentation. This time they had J. Mascis of Dinosaur Jr fame as their support act.
J.Mascis was awesome. It takes a lot for someone to get up and play to a crowd as a solo performer, which Mascis did with a style unmatched by many performers half his age. Admittedly, I knew very little of his work outside Dinosaur Jr, but seeing him solo sounded very similar to Dinosaur, except this time it was just one guy and a semi-acoustic guitar.
After Mascis, there was just enough time to look at the merchandise in the packed foyer and get back to our seats before the lights dimmed and the crowd erupted. One by one, the band members came out, including new boy on the block Jim OÃ¢â‚¬â„¢Rourke.
After the first song, guitarist Thurston Moore spent what seemed like an eternity tuning another guitar, whilst the other band members stood around and looked at him. I started to have second thoughts about the concert, especially if they were going to stop after each song for a breather. This fears was unfounded, as subsequent guitar changes, of which there were many, were handled professionally by the roadies. Sonic Youth take the prize for most guitar changes in a set, it seemed as if after every other songs, a roadie was running on to give a new guitar to various members of the band. They also had the most effects pedals on stage, I counted at least seven pedals, all of which were used at one point or another to create the whacky guitar effects and noise montages that we have come to expect from these New York City rockers.
With three guitarists, a bassist and a drummer, Sonic Youth provided a sonic boom of sound that was by no means overpowering. The kind of sound that they produced is difficult to put into words; it was like they were loud without being loud. They were extremely tight, and each band member seemed in sync with the next. It was simply amazing to feel the band take you on a trip by means of five minutes of jamming and feedback, and then bring you straight back down to earth with a crisp, clean finish. Although the instruments sounded phenomenal, the vocals in the live mix could have been louder; it was sometimes difficult to hear what Kim Gordon or Thurston were saying in between songs.
It was a very different experience to go to a concert where the band did not play the majority of their well-known songs. There was to be no Expressway to Yr Skull, Dirty Boots, Teenage Riot or Kool Thing. In a way, listening to the songs they did play for the very first time forced you to loose yourself in the moment, and become absorbed in the sound, which was by no means hard to do. Behind the band at all times was projected a hypnotic kaleidoscope of colours, shapes and blurry images, which was reminiscent of the opening credits sequence for Taxi Driver. There were many times I had to snap myself back into reality after staring into the montage for minutes on end.
Following the first encore, there were many in the crowd screaming for more, but it was not to be. The house lights were on and it was time to go home. This was a great gig, and it was a buzz to see a band live that I first heard over a decade ago. Lets hope it is not another six years before we see Sonic Youth back in Australia.July 9, 2004 at 3:50 pm #103560
Sonic Youth/J. Mascis, Enmore Theatre on June 17
By George Palathingal
Sonic Youth and J. Mascis, the man behind Dinosaur Jr? Cool! Let’s shoe-gaze like it’s 1991, right?
Well, partly. Mascis was in Australia little more than a year ago performing a very similar solo set to this one a mix of crowd-pleasing oldies and tracks from his latest album, Free So Free.
He’s charming enough. After setting up his guitar and pedals within minutes of crunchy New Zealand rockers Cassette, Mascis wanders restlessly around the stage, then decides to start a good 15 minutes early [:shock: hope nobody missed the beginning of the show!; FC].
A couple of tracks in, Dinosaur’s Freak Scene pulls the rest of the capacity audience in from the bar, they pay their respects (a touch excessively, as far as these ears are concerned), and a ragged set lifted by breathtaking flashes of virtuoso guitar work is typified by the head-spinning closing Cure cover, Just Like Heaven.
You could almost have predicted that Sonic Youth, a band inspirationally still obsessed with moving forward after 23 years together, wouldn’t dwell on glories past as much. The New Yorkers have a new album in Sonic Nurse that’s calmer than previous offerings, but that still simmers with a tantalising whiff of danger.
They come onstage one by one, each to increasing ovations. New full-time member Jim O’Rourke is first up, stroking a howling guitar line from his fretboard and positioning himself behind a near-comical array of pedals. Longtime drummer Steve Shelley is next, patiently pattering his cymbals, gradually followed by founder members Lee Ranaldo, Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore. This trio, who will later share vocals, add to the wall of noise for now with respectively keys, bass and why change the habit of a lifetime? more guitar. (Naturally, Ranaldo also picks up one, his usual instrument, the moment the opener ends.)
Pretty much all of the long, discordant tracks do their thing without anything too traditional and troublesome such as, say, a chorus, but it’s still mesmerising stuff: an aural equivalent to the fuzzy, colourful kaleidoscope of images projected behind the band. Sonic Youth have been experimenting with feedback and guitar effects for so long that the likes of Ranaldo can coolly swing and scrape his guitar around and still be in control of its part in the compelling cacophony.
A visibly frustrating period of technical difficulty stifles proceedings mid way, but the band recover to climax with a welcome nod to the past in the comparatively traditional, but still blistering, art-grunge of Kool Thing.
A performance focused and intense enough to suggest that while new rock bands may be enjoying the heady rush of overnight success, longevity and consistency can be far more satisfying.July 9, 2004 at 4:03 pm #103561
…and a blog entry about a backstage visitQuote:So I went down to the Enmore Theatre on Friday night to see if I could score a ticket into the J Mascis and The Fog show with Schools on base! I was walking around at about 6:00pm and decided to cruise the alley way behind the theatre, ended up at the backstage entrance to the theatre and decided to just walk right in, what were they gonna do? Kick me out? So I walk in and there’s Sonic Youth’s dressing room, the headliners, so I asked the lead singer of Sonic Youth if Dave Schools was around, i just wanted to say hi. They told me that J Mascis had come to Australia solo and Dave Schools and the rest of the band didn’t make the trip. How dissappointing!! Oh well, at least I hadn’t bought tickets to the show yet. But hey, I did meet Sonic Youth……..Yippee…….
Anyways, Schools wasn’t in Australia with J Mascis……Shitty……Oh well…..July 9, 2004 at 6:32 pm #103562
So funny, I know a fellow who I will call D. D. and he was visiting with me right before the 40 Watt April show. We started talking about Dave Schools and he got really pissed and was expressing the fact that Dave Schools is the biggest asshole in Athens, such a mean, cold guy. He told me I saw Dave be so mean to a group of people after a show once. Juan my husband said just the opposite, he said Dave is the kind of guy you just want to hug, he’s vibe is so easy and happy. At the show I asked Dave about the night D.D. saw him be very pushy and mean to some fans and he told me the only time that happens is when he is sitting backstage and someone sneaks in and comes right into his room and expects to be greeted as a long lost friend. He said it really irks him . He told me it happens alot. Dave and J can usually be found after a show without having to sneak in a backdoor. J was putting up stuff from the stage after the show and then (I was told, because I went home to bed) made a cell phone call from a park bench on the sidewalk, in front of the club at about 3:30 AM.August 1, 2004 at 8:33 am #103563
another Sydney show review: anemicmagazine.com show review (with several cool SY pics)
Band: Sonic Youth supported by J. Mascis and Cassette
Date: June 17th, 2004
Venue: The Enmore Theatre
Once the words ‘Sonic Youth’ spring to mind, every second music fan seems to drop their jaw in a sense of awe. It’s no surprise really, 19 albums, shit loads of credibility and a sound that redefines itself every time it appears on someone’s stereo.
Where do you start with Sonic Youth? Maybe their formation in the early ’80s, what about their major label debut in "Goo". None the less Sonic Youth are a band that can’t draw a comparison. Their innovative ways have inspired, the infamous lifestyle of the centrepiece in Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore have done much the same, what next?
How about a trip to Australia in support of their new half ‘accessible’ album, "Sonic Nurse". It’s ‘The Youth’s’ first time down under since their tour in 1998 for the very cleanly produced "A Thousand Leaves" album. Circumstances have changed for Sonic Youth however. The recruitment of long time friend and producer Jim O’Rourke being the main one, which has given the band a new scope to their live show, as I’m about to witness.
New Zealand rockers, Cassette kick off the night bringing their modern/indie rock tunes to the Enmore Theatre crowd. A fun stage presence and a simple song structure comes off rather quaint without being too amazing, just how you want your opening act to be.
Then it was Dinosaur Jr. catalyst J. Mascis’ turn to continue in getting the crowd pumped. J. Mascis represents how the acoustic guitar should be played. Plenty of passion, no ego and humble as hell, jamming out some Dinosaur Jr favourites as well as some ditties of his own. That in itself was a blinding highlight but the timid noodling on guitar that turned savage thanks to a thing they call distortion, leaves a lot in the crowd bewildered and in an instant, a moment that a lot hadn’t witnessed before. Nothing short of brilliance by the 38-year-old who now looks 70 in the shade.
The time had come, this was the moment people had been twiddling their thumbs over the past few months for. The wait was soon to be over as the avant-garde merchants of New York in Sonic Youth weren’t too far away from making a long-awaited appearance.
Jim O’Rourke saunters out on stage with Robert Smith like hair, perpetually scraping his guitar for some subtle feedback. Lee Ranaldo then acknowledges the crowd, wearing a red and black flannelette shirt, taking his position behind the keyboards. Steve Shelley casually jumps behind the drum kit shimmering on the symbols prior to the entrance of Mrs Sonic Youth. Yes, Kim Gordon, wearing a sky blue dress, picks up her bass, glaring at her bandmates with a sense of tension scattered across her face.
It was then time for the humorous and in some cases the leader of these innovators to make an appearance. Thurston Moore ambles towards his guitar as his gangly physic reminds you of Shaggy from Scooby Doo, minus the stubble. His smile brings charisma let along his ability to play music, so that, in itself, sets the stage for what’s to come.
‘I Love You Golden Blue’ comprises the outset, with Kim Gordon taking the vocal reins in one of the many highlights off "Sonic Nurse" as the epic proportion of this track sets the pace right from the get go.
The band rummages through a lot off "Sonic Nurse" which is to be expected. After all, that is the album they are touring on, so those who continually plead for some older numbers might have their wishes diminished. Not that it should be a worry, it’s Sonic Youth for crying out loud! Plus the inclusion of O’Rourke has immensely refined this band’s live performance. The three-way guitar combat is perplexing as Moore, Ranaldo and O’Rourke all jam into different guitar chords throughout tracks like the haphazard ‘Rain on Tin’, and the brash riflings through ‘Stones’ and ‘Paper Cup Exit’.
Despite the endless attempts from the person in front of me persisting to scream ‘Youth Against Fascism’ the band does dig a little into their back catalogue. ‘Skip Tracey’ has the "Washing Machine" lovers on a stick, while ‘The Empty Page’ witnesses Thurston Moore on a comedown between his song banter. One of the examples of this is when the red wavered hair frontman asks two people in the crowd to get onstage and make out. Quite comical, or to the point, accumulated due to alcohol.
All of this eventually brings a smile to the face of Kim Gordon (finally), after she leads the forefront during the dark resilient ‘Dude Ranch Nurse’ and industry tirade of ‘Kim Gordon and the Arthur Doyle Hand Cream’. Moore’s jokes were once again to the fore thanks to some guitar difficulty. Enough is enough hints Gordon, who strolls over to her husband of over 20 years, telling him to pick up the bass and launch into ‘White Kross’.
After the band walk off stage hinting the show is over, people don’t move a muscle, knowing an encore is inevitable. Why do bands do it? To have a drag out the back? Do they do it in an attempt to keep the anticipation levels flying? Or do they do it to just have a well-deserved breather? None the less, the world’s leading musical innovators once again prowl out on stage blasting into modern favourite ‘New Hampshire’.
Moore’s facial expressions are dazzling. One minute he looks to be in heaven through the ethereal guitar riffs he producers, the next he looks like he is on the verge of electrocution with his face showing a profusion of distress. No doubt Moore increases the persona that Sonic Youth have to offer. Or at least I thought that before Kim Gordon loses her bass, takes the microphone off its stand and taps on the mental house door, before rolling into ‘Kool Thing’. A definite pinnacle of tonight’s proceedings, with Gordon swaying from one side of the stage to another so elegantly.
A sense of elation and buoyancy is sprayed throughout the crowd during the evident fan favourite in ‘Kool Thing’, but for the band to stroll out, once again, for one last shot and play ‘Tom Violence’ things reach the special mark and all expectations are met. There’s no big wave of appreciation or any hints of rock star egos. Just a band that comes in, gives it their all and ends up with the results. After all, it’s being over 20 years, you’d think Sonic Youth would know the tricks of the trait on how to wow a crowd.
Sonic Youth produce music that we tend to get lost in, a type of lost where copious freedom grabs us and tells us to enjoy the moment. Sonic Youth not only produce this fine music but they too get lost in their own noise. After all this is what rock n’ roll should be all about.
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