Friday, July 20, 2007

we can bring it back

Last night I saw Sonic Youth perform the entirety of Daydream Nation. I almost didn't even get there. Having ridden BART across the bay up to Berkeley, and walked from Downtown across the entire campus to the Greek Theater, the last bit running because I was late, I arrived at the venue and there was no show. The way the theater is positioned from the North, you can't really see anything till you arrive, so it probably looked pretty funny to passersby when I jogged determinedly up to a completely deserted complex, then stopped and stared in horror and, I have to admit, some tiny degree of relief. I wasn't sure I could sit through all of Daydream Nation -- as cathartic and revelatory as some of it can be, the album still contains periods of prolonged boredom punctuated by Lee Ranaldo pretending that melody's gone out of style. What happened was, I'd bought tickets for the following night's show, at the Greek Theater in Los Angeles.

So I called Camille, and -- brief note: this is why I got married -- she tolerated a few minutes of whining, followed by a few minutes of fake, forced commentary like "Nevermind, it's not that big a deal" to cover my brokenheartedness, before finally getting on Craigslist and persuading me to walk over to the Berkeley Community Theater, where the show was actually taking place. It's actually about a block from the BART station, so not a huge sacrifice. Anyway, I bought a scalped ticket for $5 above face, displaying a phenomenal lack of haggling ability when, having gotten the guy to agree to face value (don't like to pay less, refuse to pay more), I realized I didn't have change and just gave him two twenties instead of insisting. I was so relieved. The only time I've been any good at haggling was when I was in Senegal, where it's just basic practice, but it didn't stick. Although I got pretty good at eating fishbones and unidentified beef chunks there too, so I guess I left a lot of skills behind.

The show was awesome. I actually have very little to say about it. a Kim and Kim and Kim and Kim was hot despite looking (as always) slightly reanimated. I hadn't realized how much of a "Hip Dad" vibe Lee Ranaldo puts out, but that was also entertaining. Thurston Moore is ageless and godlike, as Sleater-Kinney recognized awhile ago. The album felt more bombastic live, in part because the Berkeley Community Theater doesn't have the best sound system for a waves-of-noise band like Sonic Youth. Kind of the same problem with the Roots when we saw them there in 1999. "Teen Age Riot," "The Sprawl," "Total Trash," and "Silver Rocket" were incredible. Hearing Daydream Nation from start to finish reminded me how much of what I love in music these days came in some part from the bracing novelty of that album. I'm very glad I got a chance to see them do this somewhat unique tour.

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