Concert Reviews

Over the Weekend: Sonic Youth at the Ogden Theatre

Sonic Youth
Friday, July 31, 2009
Ogden Theatre

Three songs into Sonic Youth's muscular set, Kim Gordon sang, "I want you to levitate me/Don't you love me yet?" during "Sacred Trixter." Although her feet might have still been on the ground, those first three songs, which also included the opener "Stereo Sanctity" and "No Way," had enough juice to start levitating some people musically during the sold out show. As far as people loving Gordon yet, well, it's hard not to love one of the most badass women in the history of rock.

Wearing a shiny silver dress, the captivating Gordon was easily one of the show's focal points, as was her husband, guitarist Thurston Moore as they plowed their way through a set made up of nearly every track from the band's latest album, The Eternal, as well as four cuts from 1988's Daydream Nation. After guitarist Lee Ranaldo belted out the vocals on "Hey Joni," Moore introduced "Anti-Orgasm" by saying it was a political song about having sex with a German radical hippie and a supermodel. While strobe lights throbbed to the beat, Gordon and Moore traded off verses before Moore and Ranaldo blasted off into one of the show's many sonic excursions.

Songs from The Eternal were executed brilliantly, fueled by drummer Steve Shelley and Pavement's Mark Ibold, who handled bass duties while Gordon played guitar most of the night and also playing bass on a few tunes. Some of the album's highlights included a psych jam at the end of "Poison Arrow," Gordon's vocals on "Malibu Gas Station" or the slow and moody set closer, "Massage the History," which featured Moore on acoustic guitar. Moore dedicated "Leaky Lifeboat" to Beat poet Gregory Corso, who once taught at the Naropa Institute.

While most of The Eternal songs were soaked in intensity, some of the older material proved to be the most exciting, especially the hard-hitting "'Cross the Breeze," which might have been the most powerful aural assaults of the night. "Silver Rocket" was nearly as beefy with Moore creating some gorgeous noise by scraping the strings of Jazzmaster against of the hanging speakers.

After ripping through the pair of songs from Daydream Nation for the first encore, Sonic Youth came back for "What We Know" from The Eternal and then completely destroyed on "Death Valley '69" from the band's second album, 1985's Bad Moon Rising. Near the end of the song, Moore and Ranaldo went to the middle of the stage, raised their guitars in the air, scraping them together. It was noisy and magical and holy fuck, it was glorious. Moore stayed on stage after the rest of the band left and summons some more feedback from his effects and a radio that was playing classical music.

Critic's Notebook

Personal bias:
I don't know how I've made it this long without seeing Sonic Youth live, but this maiden voyage was epic
Random detail:
Thurston Moore had ten guitars.   
By the way:
Mayor John Hickenlooper was at the show.


Stereo Sanctity
No Way
Sacred Trixter
Calming the Snake
Hey Joni
Poison Arrow
Walkin Blue
Malibu Gas Station
Silver Rocket
Leaky Lifeboat
Massage the History

Encore 1
The Sprawl
'Cross the Breeze

Encore 2
What We Know
Death Valley '69