Monday, March 3, 2008

Sonic Youth @ Fowler's Live - Daydream Nation tour 2008 (Friday, 22nd February)

Friday week ago, we flew into Adelaide to catch Sonic Youth on their Daydream Nation tour.

After taking a detour to the shops to get a jacket for the unexpectedly cool weather, we found the venue and went inside. Well, outside to be exact. The venue consisted of a small-ish bar on the side of a lane way. The lane was blocked off and the stage was setup at the end of it.

The support act was an Australian band called The Scientists. They played a loud and solid set of rock-noise-blues, which I think suited the job well. I could easily imagine myself getting into them a lot more.

During the break after the support it started to rain a bit. Not too heavily, but enough to cause a lot of the crowd to head into the bar. Lucky for us, we got the idea to head to the bar before the rain started :-)

Not long after the rain stopped, Sonic Youth made their way to the stage, and true to their words broke into the opening of Teenage Riot. Unfortunately we weren't in the best position in terms of sound, and it was a bit muddy and not as loud as I was expecting. This was more obvious after spending some of the time during the support standing next to the sound desk. Unfortunately, that was also a major throroughfare for people wanting to get to the front the stage or to the bar, and it quickly got tiring having to constantly move out of the way for said people.

Even after taking into account that we weren't in the best position for sound, the start of the set was a bit of an anti-climax for me. I got the impression that they were going through the motions a bit and not really getting into it themselves.

Silver Rocket was a bit of an improvement, but they really started to shine when they went into The Sprawl and 'Cross The Breeze. From there, the set got better and better. Maybe it was just a false start, but they all seemed much more into it as the night went on.

Notable highlights included Eric's Trip, Providence (I was wondering how they were going to perform this soundscape live, and it worked very well) and the brilliant dis-chord in Candle (much more pronounced than what I'm used to hearing it on the album).

Coincidentally, the rain started up again as they started Rain King! Hardly anyone moved inside this time, ourselves included. I was lucky that the jumper I bought had a hood on it, and we used one of the street presses to keep Kate's head dry :-)

Kate was a reluctant audience member heading into the gig as their music isn't normally what she's into, but even she was bopping up and down with me to Kissability! Another convert maybe?

True to the album, they did all three parts of Trilogy. Part III of was another song I was wondering about how it would translate live, and after hearing them complete the set with it, I have a whole new appreciation of it! I get the feeling that they may have used it in the past as an encore, but on this night they went straight into it. Finally, after the extended outro, the band bid their farewells and went off stage.

It wasn't until I listened to the album again before going to the gig that I appreciated how well it hangs together as an entire piece. I've felt that Sonic Youth have a hit and miss affair with consistency across entire albums, but Daydream Nation sticks out in my head as one that I could listen as a whole just as easy as (or even easier than) listening to the songs in isolation. The gig reinforced that feeling I had, in that as much as I like other albums more, such as Washing Machine and A Thousand Leaves, I couldn't imagine them being played live from start to end.

The other thing I really noticed tonight was how little the music has dated. Considering the usual images of music in the eighties, you could be forgiven thinking that this 20 year old album was released much more recently.

After the obligatory three minute disappearance from the stage and to chants of "Adelaide loves Youth", the band came back on to play Incinerate and two more songs (one sung by Kim and the other by Lee), which I think were also from Rather Ripped. It was good to hear the new songs alongside Daydream Nation, once again showing how little the album appears to have aged.

After a slightly longer break, they returned for one last song. One of the songs that stood out in my head from the last time I saw them play was Drunk Butterfly, and to my pleasant surprise, this was the song they finished the night with. It was a fitting way to end the gig given how much of Adelaide's finest brews were available at the venue :-)

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