Sonic Youth w/ Talk Normal and Grass Widow
07/31/10 Prospect Park – Brooklyn, NY
Words/Photos/Videos by Jay Porks/concertconfessions.com
When you get a chance to see art at it’s purest form- live and in person, you can’t miss out on the opportunity..The thirty first edition of the Jay Porks Never Ending concert series brings us to The Prospect Park Bandshell to Celebrate Brooklyn with Sonic Youth! With supporting acts Talk Normal and Grass Widow.. The price for this show is definitely right: Free w/ a $3 donation.. More than manageable. Gates are set to open at 6PM and the show should kick off at 7PM..
Running a little late due to NYC subway construction, I walk up to the entrance to Prospect Park a little after 7.. There’s a line over a hundred deep to get in, so I figured I’d try out my new trick first hand. Went to the front of the line and asked about press check in- that’s when I was allowed to enter without waiting on the line or getting searched..Sweet. Talk Normal was already on as I walked in and got my wristbands and stuff.. They’re a two man band( two woman band), who happen to be touring with a bassist. Looked like a roadie, they’re songs were filled the harsh angst we all appreciate in our rock music.. Tempo of their songs varied from slow quiet to fast and loud.. In the short time I was watching them I didn’t say to myself ‘this is annoying’, like I normally do..They went off at 7:30..
Prospect Park, when fixed up for live concerts, really out does itself.. There’s several tents set up to buy stuff, in front of the stage there’s lawn chairs set up stadium style that go about 30- 40 deep surrounding the stage.. In back of that is a walk way which alot of us are standing on and behind that is a lawn section sort of, with people spread out on blankets laying across.. Can’t be much of a view from there but if you’re just looking to listen to some good tunes..
Grass Widow goes on at 7:45.. First song they played they sounded like the Breeders so I was liking the aesthetic.. They have three girls- bass, guitar, drums. No keyboards no bullshit.. Crowd was getting into them too, and by the 4th song in I noticed the applause becoming real and not ‘let’s clap so they finish” sort of thing.. Harmonies are cool as all three band members sing lyrics.. By the end of the set I felt like I just saw the Breeders mixed with Shonen Knife.. The last song they played, which they dedicated to their moms, had a baseline reminiscent of “God Save The Queen.”
About half way through Grass Widows set, a sudden rush of excitement came over me.. I’m about to see Sonic Youth! Can you believe it? And for free?! How can the rest of this day disappoint?
Grass Widow went off at about 8:23 and a guy came on stage to thank us for coming to celebrate Brooklyn , and to introduce tonights sponsor, which is Limewire (is the music still free?).. This made it seem like a Jr High School assembly for a few minutes. They called out the names of contest winners..
Now we wait. Moore, Renaldo, Gorden, Shelley- Sonic Youth hit the stage a couple minutes before 9.. By this time, there is not a place to move around in this joint..they didn’t start the set- they BLASTED into it. This was like watching picaso paint a mural- the guitar work on stage was complete artistry.. Led by the duo of mad scientists- Thurston Moore and Lee Renaldo.. Song by song we get louder, heavier and then louder again.. With every note of every song being hit with more passion than newlyweds on their honeymoon. I’ve never seen musicians beat the crap out of their instruments like they did. After each song shaking every ounce of feedback out of the amps.. Halfway through the set I noticed Lee playing his guitar like a violin- like Jimmy Paige or something. It was awesome.. And Kim Gordan is still hot! She has to be pushing 50 by now, but she can still move.. Made playing the bass parts of these songs look effortless..
A little while later, Kim and Thurston switched, so Thurston was playing bass with Kim on guitar.. She can shred too.. It’s like a orchestral guitar ensemble on stage.. I never thought you can make noises like that from amps and guitars.. Songs pass unbeknownst to me, because Sonic Youth, like other bands I’ve seen (Meat Puppets, Dino Jr, Etc) have barely any spaces in between songs- letting sounds linger into the next song or back into the same song. This makes getting a set list very difficult- so if I find one of validity on the web somewhere in the near future I will post it here(Set list can be viewed here: http://www.setlist.fm/setlist/sonic-youth/2010/prospect-park-brooklyn-ny-7bd4467c.html.. “Trilogy:The Wonder” is one of the songs Thurston mentioned the name of before they played it.. They played other tunes like “Mote”, “The Sprawl”, “Silver Rocket” And I didn’t realize that Lee has songs where he sings lead.. Honestly, he sounds like Thurston so I wouldn’t have known had I not been watching..
About 10pm, Sonic Youth ducks off stage to a huge roar.. No one in the park even blinks. We’re not leaving until we get some more, and Thats what we got a few minutes later. Came back out and played two songs, then went to duck off again.. But Thurston is waving the band back on stage, as he says ” No we’re gonna do one more” into the microphone.. Kim hasn’t made it back on stage, so Thurston says ” Lets get Kim out here” as he starts a chant “KIM- G.. KIM-G”… And we of course join in.. Then in a humorous turn of events, Thurston goes- ” You know what, maybe she’s taking care of business back there. So this probably isn’t cool”. Some douche behind me screamed ” Number one or number two!” as nobody laughed.. They played ‘Expressway to Yr Skull” when Kim came back out on stage, and at 10:30PM,after the band let the feedback ride out fully (Lee spent 10 minutes dragging the head of his guitar against the stage scratching out every last drop of feedback) with distortingly beautiful noises squealing from their weapons of tonights mass destruction and our enchanted night had ended..
Absolutely amazing. Still humming those songs I hardly even know.. If there was one criticism of this crazy night, it was that the band stayed away from it’s latest effort, ‘The Eternal’, which was the Jay Porks Experience top album of 2009.. I don’t think they played one song off it.. But still far from disappointed. I’ve missed this band so many times in the past-i wouldn’t have been able to live with myself if I didn’t come to this tonight.. So worth risking my life walking the streets of Brooklyn by myself on the trip home…
For those of you who made it this far, take your hand and pt yourselves on the back for being good soldiers and color me impressed. Thanks. The next scheduled meeting between us ( Me: Jay Porks and You: The Reader) is September 4th at the Bowery Ballroom for another great band- Mudhoney… Thanks for putting up with my non sense for a little while..