27 years after their formation, is there any question that Sonic Youth is the greatest rock band ever to emerge out of New York?
Their influence, longevity, extensive catalog, live performances and overall impact on the NY scene are beyond that of any band ever to come out of New York. This is no disrespect to The Velvet Underground, The Ramones, Television, Blondie, Talking Heads and many other legendary bands that established NYC as the greatest music scene in the world.
Any doubters had to be left speechless by Friday afternoon’s performance at Battery Park (part of River to River‘s annual concert series). No fireworks display that followed was anywhere near as explosive as what was being created on that stage by Thurston, Gordon, Ranaldo, Ibold and Shelley. For a band whose sound thrives indoors, they had no problem building walls of earth-shattering guitars. Any exterior walls of atmosphere surrounding earth were blown right off.
With over a dozen albums to their credit, they could have played anything, old or new, and it would have been great, but the set list they put together for Friday was an absolute dream for longtime fans. They brought out ancient material like set-opener "She is Not Alone," and "The World Looks Red," while also loading the set with material from pinnacle records Daydream Nation and Dirty.
Not only did they sound phenomenal, but they played with the energy and fire of a kids in their early ’20s. Kim Gordon dances/spun without tiring, and Thurston Moore even jumped into the photo pit, having a bit of fun wrangling my fellow photographers.
As if seeing Sonic Youth’s masterful performance for free wasn’t enough, the opener was The Feelies. Having only played their first show since reuniting days earlier at Maxwell’s, the band was incredibly tight. Starting off a little slow, they really hit their stride midway through the set, showcasing their style of intertwining guitars that made them the underground favorite that heavily influenced other indie legends like REM.
Sonic Youth’s Setlist:
She is not Alone
Bull in the Heather
World Looks Red
Cross the Breeze
Jams Run Free
Making the Nature Scene
Photos by Jonny-Leather