Watching Sonic Youth perform live is like listening to a new Sonic Youth album. You know their performance or album will be good, really good, or amazing and never coming close to a disappointment. As a matter of fact, they lull you to sleep with a consistently steady performance level and uncanny ability to nail song after song without giving off the appearance of stagnation or going through the motions. If you ask me, which you didn't, it's an amazing feat many bands will never pull off, let alone for the duration Sonic Youth has been chugging along. They are so consistently good, as a fan you can often slip into a hazy state similar to a person suffering from a psychological trauma. Somehow they appear mundane, even though that's the furthest thing from reality. Maybe I'm the only one that has suffered through "Sonic Youth Syndrome?" But alas, more times than not, by the end of their live set or album they manage to impress me in overt and subtle ways that inevitably shake me out of my "Sonic Youth Syndrome."
On Friday night, as expected, Sonic Youth marched through most of their underrated album Rather Ripped. Of the albums released in '06 ‘Rather Ripped’ consistently proves to be one of the better releases based on its ability to provide continued revelations, while other more heralded albums have worn out their welcome. Pink Steam and Or have grown on me to the point where they have become two of my favorite Sonic Youth songs, which is no small feat. Last time Sonic Youth played New York, fans of 'Daydream Nation' were treated to Teen Age Riot and Eric's Trip. This time around the lucky fans in attendance were blessed with Candle and Silver Rocket. Of course, the highlight of the evening was the blistering rendition of Silver Rocket. It’s always fun to speculate which song Sonic Youth will reach back for and play live. They’ll always play one old favorite or obscure song you did not, or could not fathom before hand. With a catalog as diverse and deep it's often futile to speculate but more rewarding to sit back and wait patiently for that one song. Next to Silver Rocket, that one song I was not expecting but was delighted to hear was, Skip Tracer. If Lee hit the stage, sans Sonic Youth, performed Skip Tracer and exited stage left I would have walked home a happy man. Yeah, a little over the top, but it’s Lee. I have a strange and complex attraction to Lee Ranaldo’s songs and his disturbingly hypnotic voice. Rats, one of the better cuts off 'Rather Ripped' stands up strong against his previous output, however shamefully limited that output has been. I was hoping to hear Mote or Wish Fulfillment, but no dice. There wasn't much on stage banter aside from Moore calling Mark Ibold, Mark Arm, before quickly correcting his error. A hearty laugh was had all around and everyone's attention quickly shifted back to the music. I've come to the inevitable conclusion that it's impossible to walk away from a Sonic Youth concert disappointed. Sonic Youth never disappointed an audience is the most scientifically accurate and proven theory next to Einstein's Theory of Relativity and "Sonic Youth Syndrome."
Sonic Youth @ McCarren Pool 8/11 - 8/12/06
Photos: Sonic Youth @ McCarren Pool 8/11/06
Photos: Sonic Youth @ McCarren Pool 8/12/06
Video: The World Looks Red @ McCarren Pool 8/11/06
Video: Teen Age Riot @ McCarren Pool 8/12/06
Silver Rocket live @ Webster Hall 2/16/07
My obsession takes a turn for the creepy. Sorry Kim, blame it on the zoom.