Oh Sonic Youth. Right up there with George Clooney, they are the poster children for aging gracefully. How many other bands can you think of that play seriously kick-ass live shows, actually make meaningful music contributions, and were one of the most influential bands of all time some twenty-five years ago? The guitar gods rocked the faces off of an incredibly packed Prospect Park bandshell. There were people still trying to get in even as they were playing their last few songs. The band is a monument to practice. When you do something for a long time, you learn to do it damn well. The trick is not to lose any of your fire, which was not a problem for the band at all on Saturday.
Grass Widow and Talk Normal each tried to hold their own, but neither were really up to the task of holding down such a large stage. Talk Normal plays fairly interesting drone rock. They use two basses and a drum kit, so the sound is fairly unique, but the drummer couldn’t quite seem to keep the beat well enough to make it a totally captivating performance. As for Grass Widow, I really enjoyed listening to their songs for the first time before the show, but was confronted by a band with weak guitar sounds and no personality. I’m definitely going to put their album in my iTunes, but I won’t jump to see them live again. You check out photos from the night right here at Impose.
MP3: “My Friend Goo” – Sonic Youth
Free Sonic Youth! Free Sonic Youth! Sonic Youth at Irving Plaza in 2001 was the first concert I ever went to. I was a very innocent 15. I went with my older brother and sister, and a drunk girl passed out in front of me. My only complaint about the show was everyone was just standing around instead of getting into it. All of those impressions seem hilariously funny now, and I’m excited that this FREE show tomorrow will be my first time seeing the tock and roll legends since. If you’ve never had a chance to catch them before now, this is a great opportunity!
The two openers are also extremely cool. Grass Widow is a group out of San Francisco who play fairly basic garage rock, but with frequent layered twists. They take classic bass lines and guitar riffs and turn them into something new. I’m really loving them. Check out the track below. Talk Normal, from Brooklyn, play dark-tinted drone rock. It’s very moody, and sort of makes my insides squirm, but in a good way. And it’s all free! And in the most beautiful park in New York!
MP3: “Shadow” – Grass Widow
This is one of those really special shows that only come around once in a while, that you’ll definitely want to be a part of. You’ve probably heard that The National are releasing High Violet this week (I haven’t listened to it yet, but it’s #1 on my priorities list). To promote/celebrate the new album, the band is hosting their own music venue next to Other Music this week. Tomorrow is the first night of performers, with shorts sets by a bunch of amazing bands including Inlets, Helado Negro, The Luyas, Zachary Cale, Julianna Barwick, Talk Normal, Arlt, and Martha Wainwright. Each band will play a short set, and tickets will be given away to The National’s performance at BAM on Saturday night, which are going for hundreds of dollars on Craigslist. I have no idea how big the space is or how early you’ll want to be there in order to get in, but this is definitely one of those don’t-miss New York City events. (For the record, I don’t like the new Inlets album- the guy’s voice is all wrong- but I posted the track below in case you want to check it out for yourself.)
MP3: “In Which I, Robert” – Inlets