Date: July 25, 2004 6:45:15 PM EDT
Subject: Total hater
Thursday, July 15, 2004
Me Bleedin’ Ears
Sonic Youth, Showbox 7/14/2004
The timing for a headache couldn’t be any worse.
I’d never seen Sonic Youth live in concert, but by reputation I knew the
band was loud, and its sound often times is experimental. Lisa and I got to
the Showbox pretty late — about an hour and a half after the show was
supposed to start. We should have waited another hour before going inside.
When we got there, we were “treated” to the experience that is Wolf Eyes,
a band that I’d never heard of before. When they started playing, it was
obvious why Sonic Youth chose to bring them on the tour. For over half
an hour, the band gave us an onslaught, or assault, of high pitched
feedback, distortion, screaming, and new ways of using noise makers.
Most bands that actually are worth listening to use the noise to introduce
a song, or bring it to an exciting close. Not Wolf Eyes. Entire “songs”
were devoted to the ear splitting crap. And it was every shit eating song in their
set. You know, they even broke out a foley artist’s tool for emulating thunder,
a piece of sheet metal. It was so bad, you couldn’t make out what people
were yelling five feet away. Through it all, these guys played, bobbing and
head banging to a beat only they could hear. I thought to myself, if that’s
all it takes for me to be noticed as a musician, Sonic Youth could take
me on tour. I could just go on stage taking a shit on a miked toilet, playing
a one stringed guitar blasting feedback through a five dollar amp. I’d never
felt such animosity towards a band like this in my life. I wanted to beat them
with their instruments until I blacked out from rage. I wanted to go to a gun
range, and shoot a .57 right next to their unplugged ears while I shoved
bamboo under their nails, just so they would know what they had made me
go through. If you think I’m belaboring the point or exaggerating, I wasn’t
alone. I noticed that a lot of folks in the audience, with years of rock
clubbing under their belts, had facial expressions that switched between
scowls and cringes. One of the security guys walked buy and remarked
(amazingly audible at the time), “They suck so bad, it makes me sweat!!”
True, it was really hot in the room, but my body seemed to only notice the
one of its five senses that was dying a horrible death. If my ears had
undergone this kind of treatment early in my concert-going life, I would
have stayed home every night of the rest of my life. When they finally ended
their set, there was a fifty-fifty mix between cheering (I’m still astounded at
these poser fans) and booing. I had no energy to boo. My head was pounding,
and I was just relieved to have the calm of a room full of people jabbering.
When Sonic Youth finally took the stage, I was to exhausted to care.
As I write this, I’m pissed that I couldn’t fully take on the experience of
this legendary band and give them an enthusiastic listen. I was agitated
and ready for the night to be over. I’m pissed that I’m devoting less time
and words to the Sonic Youth set. I mean, I enjoyed their set. Especially
when we retreated to the back of the room. For as noisy as this band is,
at least they know how to make music. They have a mix of tones to their
songs, ranging from the moaning, purring, and screeching of Kim Gordon,
to the frantic, sarcastic whine of Thurston Moore. Most of it is definitive
pop noise punk, and by all accounts not much has changed in their
songwriting since they formed in the 1970s. Sonic Youth is probably the
best at changing tempo in the middle of their songs, going from beautifully
layered guitar to speaker breaking noise, and back again. This, folks, is
how you’re supposed to use noise.
But I wasn’t able to make it through the set. My head continue to hurt, and
I was really hungry. We traveled up to Capitol Hill to enjoy a couple of
Dick’s burgers. And it was so quiet, I nearly wept. Headache abated, we
went home, and I fell asleep, grateful for once for living in the quiet
Hon, you had me laughing so hard I nearly peed right here in the office!
Your description was absolutely correct. I enjoyed Sonic Youth, but
certainly not as much as I would have without sitting through Wolf Eyes.
Man, they were bad. Really. Bad! Categorically the worst show I’ve ever
had the misfortune of attending.
For those of you reading, these guys tried to play one of those Christmas
ornament horns (like the fake brass ones you buy at Michael’s to hot glue
to a wreath). Painful.
heads descended upon the lead “singer” when he walked over to the
merch table. These girls were too young to know that just because
something is different doesn’t mean it’s good. Sigh. I weep for our future.