Sonic Youth Go Through the Motions, Spectacularly

Sonic Youth Photo: Getty Images

Sonic Youth's epochal 1988 album, Daydream Nation, is revered by many as the very definition of indie rock, so it was surprising that its creators would agree to a confining, go-through-the-motions, play-it-start-to-finish concert. Yet they did. And though the band couldn’t help but tweak and fiddle on Saturday night at McCarren Park Pool, purists could still revel in the constants. There were the famously wandering guitars in “Total Trash,” Lee Ranaldo’s monotonously snarled “Eric's Trip,” and the sporadic use of the violin bow as a pick. Yet there was a sense that the band was relieved when, as Ranaldo put it, they could “enter the 21st century.”

Two encores later, and with the help of Mark Ibold (who must’ve called in sick to his side job), the band played tracks from 2006’s Rather Ripped. Thurston Moore mumbled a sheepish, “Thank you for sticking around … We’d play all night if the city would pass the anarchy ordinance.” Less noisy than the songs of Daydream Nation, though a tad more impassioned, “Jams Run Free,” “Do You Believe in Rapture,” and “Incinerate” turned Kim Gordon into a twirling, prancing interpretive dancer and left us all thankful they hadn’t closed with “Eliminator Jr.” —Melissa Noble