Sonic Youth played a fantastic show on July 31 as part of the Celebrate Brooklyn series in Brooklyn’s Prospect Park. Showing no signs of slowing down, the band continues to push the boundaries of conventional music.
With their free-form instrumentation, catchy melodies, innovative use of feedback, and unconventional guitar tunings, Sonic Youth are the pioneers of noisy avant-garde post-punk and have defined the modern genre of indie rock.
Formed in NYC almost three decades ago, Sonic Youth led the No Wave music and art movement of the 1980s and have since then progressed to dominate the alternative music scene as arguably one of the most influential bands of the past 25 years. Appearing on the Austin City Limits stage for the first time, the band delivers explosive tracks both new and old that have continuously redefined the abilities of modern rock guitar.
Started by guitarists Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo and bassist Kim Gordon in 1981, Sonic Youth released their self-titled debut illustrative of their early experimental roots. Since then, the band has released 16 albums over the span of nearly 20 years, including the iconic Daydream Nation that is preserved in the Library of Congress. They continue to define a culture of unconventionally mainstream noise rock. “I think our music sounded more different in the ’80s and early ’90s,” said Ranaldo. “In the early days of noise rock, only a small contingent of musicians used discordant sounds or alternate tunings to make records. To the rest of the music community, it was definitely odd-sounding music.”
The band’s most recent release, 2009’s The Eternal, marks the band’s longest break between studio albums. It was well-received by critics galore and “secures its makers’ position at the forefront of American rock music” [Clash]. Incorporating nostalgic elements of the legacy Sonic Youth has created, Rolling Stone describes, “The Eternal sums up almost everything this band has done over three decades, punk sneers and psychedelic guitars pimping a proudly pretentious belief in rock as art.”
Sonic Youth are famous for the loud distorting guitars the create the foundation of their music. Revolutionary when the sound came out over thirty years ago, the sound still continues to sound fresh in the present. The lyrics, which inspired bands from Nirvana and Pearl Jam, express a hedonistic joy of life admist an alienated fractured world.