Experimental Jet Set, Trash And Converse

For all the concerts that I’ve been to, I try to make a mental note not only as to what band I’m seeing, but what style of music is being performed…to me, that gives a nice overview of what sorts of genres I’m not just listening to on records, but what I enjoy so much that I go out to see them live…of course, I go to a fair amount of shows for free, but there are still plenty of concerts that I pay for (and I always hope for those to be worth my money as prices for concert tickets continue to rise)…while the show this past Friday with Sonic Youth wasn’t free, the surprisingly inexpensive tickets provided far more than their face value in entertainment for the night…

About a month ago, I see on the concert calendar in the Y-Rock studio that Sonic Youth are going to be appearing at the TLA at the end of August, and tickets went on sale in a few days…on top of that, tickets were only $10 (with fees, it came out to about $15; still well below the admission price for most shows in the area)…when the time came to buy tickets, I got them quite painlessly through the LiveNation website as soon as they went on sale at noon…as I was looking around various sites to get more info on the show, I found that within only a few minutes of going on sale, the show had sold out…the more people I talked to who managed to get tickets told story after story of how they had to pay many times the original price of the tickets through friends or alternate websites…it seemed like I was the only person who didn’t have any trouble getting tickets online…the people who paid hundreds of dollars for the tickets didn’t exactly appreciate my telling them of this…

As planned, I got down to the TLA about an hour before doors opened…there were about 10 or 12 people already there, which left me quite relieved, as I was expecting to come into a line that had started much earlier in the day (I had a feeling that Sonic Youth‘s fans were crazy like that)…there was one other act on the bill, and that was The Hold Steady…for those who have never heard of them, I envy you, as most of Triple A radio, many magazines and just about all of XPN’s listeners have embraced them as the greatest music-related thing in history…the band isn’t terrible (in fact their performance Friday night was pretty energetic), but they certainly aren’t the best band in the world as their fans might lead you to believe…the couple in front of me were obviously only there for The Hold Steady, and were discussing their lists for XPN’s 885 Essential XPN Songs Countdown…I was going to say something about me working there, but they mentioned something about being scared by something they heard on Y-Rock once, so I stayed out…

The first person to show up that I knew was Jamie, the girl from the World Cafe Live ticket booth…a bunch of her friends came, too, and were very friendly, so we started talking as we waited…the concert was evidently sponsored by Converse, although there was so little prior advertising (since the show sold out so quickly) that we only realized the sponsorship as we were in line…there were a few guys with cameras and media badges walking up and down the line, taking pictures of people who were wearing Chuck Taylors…it just so happened that Jamie and one of her friends were wearing Chucks, and had their picture taken for the Converse website…a few minutes before the doors opened, the Converse guy comes back over to us and thanks us again for letting him take our picture and asks us if we would like to meet Sonic Youth…the answer was a clear one, so we were given wristbands with the instructions to meet at the staircase to the balcony about a half hour before showtime…

Evidently, we were hardly the only people invited to meet the band…we waited and waited in a whole group of people at the bottom of the staircase, and were finally led upstairs just as The Hold Steady took the stage…unfortunately, this meant that we couldn’t have any conversation with Sonic Youth since we couldn’t hear anything over the music…just the same, we were all given limited edition screened posters for the night’s show to have signed by the band…it could have been that Sonic Youth weren’t really into the whole ‘come meet the band before the show’ thing, or maybe they were just anxious to perform, but they didn’t seem to happy to be there…except for drummer Steve Shelley, who gave everyone a big smile as they reached the end of the autograph line…

Through a pinky-swear, I secured a spot right up against the stage before we went upstairs…I managed to get back up there before THe Hold Steady did their second song…though I am not a fan, I would love to see these guys play an XPN festival, because they would be a huge hit…most of the songs they did were from their new album, Stay Positive, though they did throw in some older songs…I recognized a few, but wasn’t swept away…lead singer Craig Finn does look like Jim Duffy, Temple Ambler’s press guy/Holiday Show star, though, and that made me smile…

As I was saying before, I’ve seen many different kinds of bands…everything from surf and bluegrass to jazz and however you would describe the Trachtenburg Family Slideshow Players…I can’t really think of another experimental band that I’ve seen, although Mission Of Burma came pretty close…as I usually do at the TLA, I stood to the lefthand side of the stage…most often, the bassist or lead guitarist is on that side, and in Friday’s case, it was Lee Ranaldo, who might have been the most fascinating guitarist I’ve ever watched…because Sonic Youth use so many goofy guitar tunings in their songs, it’s easier for them to just switch guitars every song instead of tuning between songs…this means that the band carries countless guitars with them on the road (and they’ve even been stolen and recovered in the past)…not only are the guitars in odd tunings, but they are often played in unconventional ways (read: bowed, and sometimes smacked with drumsticks)…it was really cool to watch an instrument used in a way that no other band I’ve seen has done before…

The set was an interesting one, with a few of their better known songs peppered through a lot of material from their classic Daydream Nation album…some of the standouts were “‘Cross The Breeze”, an intense “Drunken Butterfly” and “Jams Run Free” from their most recent album to date, Rather Ripped…they started off with two songs that they said to have written earlier that day, but there’s no word as to whether they will be on their forthcoming new album, The Eternal, or not…even though this was my first time seeing Sonic Youth (and, from what I overheard from other people talking around me, many other people’s first time as well), I found the assortment of songs to be really good, and I look forward to seeing them again (and maybe a live version of “Teen Age Riot” or “Disconnection Notice”)…as I left, I was given another poster (not signed, though), definitely making the night a net gain…

This was also the first show I’ve gone to with my new camera, which will still take some getting used to…until then, you can check out a recently-updated Concert Gallery…there is, however
, one picture I’d like to share here, as it is a good summary of the show:

Time turning over and over

Bassist/singer Kim Gordon, not standing still…

One of my favorite shows of the year so far? Definitely. Am I upset that I missed Nine Inch Nails, who were performing the same night? Not really, though I’ve heard good things about their new live light show…then again, nothing will ever be a better light show than this


Lyric of the Time:
Sweet lips flowers + cream
Deep in love surrender pink steam
Deep in love you need no other
Deep in love yr lonely lover


~ by E. on September 1, 2008.

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