With Sonic Youth, Bardo Pond, Toral + Yeh + Tremaine, Pedestrian Deposit, Blank Dogs, Sons of God, Yellow Tears, and Mattin.
After a single introductory set of Pulse Emitter’s rising/falling tones, things were back in motion, much quicker than before. Mattin played a half-set of harsh electronics and screamed vocals before pulling up a chair, turning bright lights on the audience, and proceeding to insult us and our “little music scene”. With apparnet relish. People heckled, others shouted them down. But the spots were on us, it was our show. He dropped the mic and walked off abruptly, making way for heavy shirtless static blasts, rattled chains, sampled sobs: Yellow Tears, who actually organized their work into “songs” with distinct beginnings, structures, and endings. Sons of God stewed thick bassy drones, but what of the huge, empty table set up? What of the older gentlemen with dapper suits flanking it, what of their increasing contortions to the sound. More performance than audio, but a unique one.
And then Blank Dogs, as much of an anomaly on the bill as Xeno & Oaklander were the day before. Yes, the gratuitously large band managed to caulk every crack in their sound until it was a nealy indistinguishable edifice of guitar and synth, but Bardo Pond would do the same trick much more skillfully later, their distorted surge held together by increasingly faint–but always insistent–shadings of groove In between, Pedestrian Deposit bowed eerie howls from a sort of tuned candlebra and half a wide metal pipe, and C Spencer Yeh double-bowed rippling free noise from his violin accompanied by drums and a kind of… solo miniature amp?).
And lastly: Sonic Youth, the entity many, many people had come for. I’ve been told they’ve sworn off playing old material and this is both fine with me and fine from a broader view. Whereas most outfits that have been around as long as they have are reduced to a sort of cover band of themselves, imitating some lost impression of a quarter century earlier, Sonic Youth just stepped free of history, jammed metal rods through their guitar strings and tore a fantastic, gleaming racket from the instruments.
Toral, Yeh, & Tremaine
Sons of God