Sonic Youth: Higher Ground, South Burlington, VT – 2/18/07

It’s hard to believe that Sonic Youth – whose two lead members Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon reside in nearby Northampton, MA – haven’t yet made the trip up Interstate 91 to play in Burlington, Vermont.  The stars aligned and the seminal indie band made a first-time trip to the Green Mountain State for a visit to Higher Ground.
Upon walking in, the fans were struck with visual stimuli in the form of spinning, florescent colored planets that hung from the ceiling. But those planets were immediately forgotten as the band hit the stage. Sonic Youth still sports the core four of Thurston Moore (guitars and vocals) Lee Ranaldo (guitars, vocals and organ) Kim Gordon (bass guitar, guitar, and vocals) and Steve Shelley (drums).  Although Jim O’Rourke has since left the band, the lineup was rounded out by the addition of ex-Pavement member Mark Ibold on bass.

Opening up with Daydream Nation’s “Candle,” the band hit the ground flying. The legend of what makes a Sonic Youth show unique is not a lie, as it was truly a transcendent experience with Moore commanding the stage with his firecracker guitar riffs, while Kim Gordon continued to prove that she’s the coolest lady in rock. Most of the night consisted of songs from their latest album Rather Ripped. Highlights included “Jams Run Free” and “Turquoise Boy.” In addition they also treated us with “100%,” a cult classic for SY fans from 1992’s Dirty, and “Skip Tracer” from the 1995’s Washing Machine. Oddly the trademark feedback jams that thrilled the band and its fans in the beginning were scarce. Only one time during the evening did this occur and it came out of the last song of the set before the encore, “Teenage Riot.” The room vibrated as the feedback grew and grew before the band exited the stage.
After the encore of "Pink Steam," the lights came up and you could see the ripped faces of the spent music fans who got what they paid for and then some. In anticipation of this special night, the club had it’s resident artist, JDK, print up posters which read: “Thank You Sonic Youth. You made it okay to:…….."  This reviewer’s read “Feel Outer Peace,” and that is exactly what I did for the rest of the night.

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