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SONIC YOUTH w/ Be Your Own Pet



  Center Stage  

Midtown, Atlanta, GA

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The night started by paying $10 to park. Had I been earlier, it would only have been $5 (later I saw it go up to $15). Then, I try to go get a beer. Cash only. I go to the restroom. There's an attendant. How indie rock is this? I hate Earthlink Live/Center Stage Theatre/The Loft/whatever they are calling themselves. It's not that I have anything against the idea of having someone to buy incense from while I'm taking a whiz. The problem I have is that if one comes unprepared, it's a little awkward when you go pee pee. Oh well. I wasn't drinking, so I wasn't urinating much.

Well, I certainly wasn't there for the ambiance. It was the bands. Sonic Youth and Be Your Own Pet. I am not sure if the show sold out, but it looked very crowded. Luckily, I got a good spot for the show. Thurston Moore's flavor of the month Be Your Own Pet went on and played their blend of spastic garage punk. Imagine a Crypt Records style punk rock, with a definite no wave oddity spinning amidst the mix. I'm sure you've heard of this band, and if you haven't, you're not cool. At least that is what I'm told by the all of the over anxious press.

I, on the other hand, didn't really find them all that interesting, other than a few tricky chord progressions. Here is the obvious: pubescent, attractive female singer and 3 boys. Really, nothing new, but very marketable. The thing that ultimately bothers me is that the band includes members that have parents that are in the music industry, and this is why I feel that the band has been given inroads that are unfair, and discrediting. Jonas Stein, guitarist, is the son of Vince Neill's manager, Burt Stein. Drummer Jamin Orral is the son of Robert Ellis Orrall, a country musician. Jemina "Pearl" Abegg is the daughter of rock photographer Jimmy Abegg. There are literally hundreds of bands that sound like this, and for the press to be drooling over Be Your Own Pet like they are is simply retarded. They put on a good show though, and I enjoyed them. I just don't think they're worth all the unduly automatic praise. I like the music, but the method is flawed.

I wasn't expecting a very energetic Sonic Youth performance. Thurston Moore came out and picked up his Jaguar, and they ripped into a track from the new album: the radio friendly Rather Ripped. The next song was 100 % from Dirty. By then, I was in Sonic Youth mode. They played most of the new album, with a couple of choice classics thrown in, like Eric's Trip. I really wanted to hear a track from 2005's Sonic Nurse called Unmade Bed. But alas, I got a plethora of Sonic Youth mostly focused on the last decade's material. The trademark Jim O'Rourke three-way of the last couple of albums is gone. The live Sonic Youth 2006 instead features mostly two bassists: Kim Gordon and ex-Pavement Mark Ibold. This seemed a little strange, and I really couldn't tell the difference. Hmm. The stage was really neat though, with a minimalist abstract white building skyline and a nice lightshow.

Sonic Youth is a huge band, and they have so much material, they could play for hours and I'd be entertained. One thing that is key to the band is their commitment to the art. I feel that this is important, despite the selling of Sonic Youth coffee mugs and beach towels (Brendan's Note: ?!?!?). It looks like the Sonic Youth vehicle is running fairly smoothly, and the band members all have side projects and are involved in the arts in general. They are doing what they love, and getting paid for it. And quite well I would imagine. This band has gotten some well-deserved respect, there's no question. But not everything they do is golden. I am constantly hearing reports of Moore either taking an interest in or offering deals to many up starting bands with an ounce of talent. I appreciate the fact that he has good taste, but I question the motivation. I wonder why Moore feels the need to be first to clamp onto and associate with every hip band and sound movement that comes along. Perhaps it's a time issue, or he simply doesn't want to wade through the tons and tons of demos I'm sure he receives. But, it seemed like Sonic Youth and Be Your Own Pet were on different planets musically. While I will acknowledge a certain level of jealousy, I can't be the only person who has noticed this. I will also point out that Moore is doing things his own way, but he is not necessarily doing it differently than the traditional big record label scheme. The only difference is that the bands don't last as long, so they don't go on to do line up changes and put out shitty albums. I guess it's hard to see how someone could be so successful doing something he loves.

Although this seems like a somewhat negative note, I am praising Sonic Youth for continued artistic support and output. We are all music fans, and I particularly like the experimental aspect of the band. I am also aware that the band members themselves probably have little to do with the marketing and business aspect of their career. Sonic Youth are a creative and strong musical force. There is mysticism about them, perhaps similar to other bands in the music industry. The difference is that they seem approachable. Down to earth. And honest.

This show review wouldn't be complete without this analysis of the band, because it is a large part of going to one of their shows. As I age, I get a feeling of the music industry changing, and Sonic Youth are leading the way for Indie Rock as a true industry in and of itself.

So the show? It was great. I would equate it to some people going to see Led Zeppelin back in 1976 (or whatever year it was cool…was it cool?) I almost enjoyed the crowd more. There were parents with their kids, musicians and artists, and blasted teenagers who were obviously witnessing their first rock show EVER! I felt a bit old, but it was nice to see such enthusiasm in the crowd. There was definitely a Go Team! aspect present that is rare at big concerts like this.

Sonic Youth are heroes, and they deserve it. I have never felt like they ripped me off. I praise the continued commitment to political correctness and artistic endeavors. I can only hope that we don't see a Toyota commercial featuring Titanium Expose. That is when I will shoot myself in the head.

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