Tonight I was lucky enough to see Sonic Youth perform their 1988 double LP masterpiece Daydream Nation at Berkeley Community Theater. I’ve been a huge fan of Sonic Youth ever since Bad Moon Rising was released in 1985. My favorite Sonic Youth album is Sister, but Daydream Nation is a very close second.
I’m often disappointed by live shows by rock bands, as performances are often rote copies of the studio versions, filled with distracting visuals totally unrelated to the music, or confirmations that a band has minimal talent and is totally dependent on studio engineers. With Sonic Youth, though, the live performances are a fantastic complement to the released recordings. Fortunately, the sound quality in the theater tonight was also very good, instead of the stupid over-amped distortion foisted on the crowd by half deaf audio engineers at many shows. Sonic Youth are absolute masters at controlling feedback and twisting it into amazing sounds.
Afer performing Daydream Nation beginning to end, the band left the stage and then came back for a five song encore, which they then followed with a double encore with an additional song. When they came out for the first encore, Thurston made a couple of funny education-related comments, since the theater is part of a high school (though this theater was a thousand times better than the one at the high school I went to). After a humorous dig at our dim-witted President, Thurston announced that they were now going to play all of Sticky Fingers. He then said something like, “Be sure to watch Lee [Ranaldo]. He’s going to do the Mick Jagger chicken dance.”
Thurston, Lee and Kim all seemed to be having a great time on stage. Since they brought up a friend to also play bass during the encores, Kim was freed up to just sing on a couple of the songs while dancing around on stage in her super cool shiny black and silver dress. She even jumped down into the crowd in the orchestra pit and danced around during the last bit of the final song.