photos by Graeme Flagenheimer, words by Nick Dierl
No Age kicked off the night's festivities at the Hollywood Bowl Thursday night (9/30); playing in front of a hometown crowd with the confidence and humility that has gained Dean Spunt and Randy Randall such great acclaim in both Los Angeles and worldwide. With the addition of third live member William Kai Strangeland-Menchaca their sound has been fleshed out enough to fill the entirety of the outdoor theater. Burning through both old favorites and songs from their brand new album Everything In Between, they were an energizing start to the evening.
Sonic Youth took the stage next and opened their set with the calm poise one would expect from such tried and true veterans. Despite their elder status in the rock community they still rocked with the best of them, with Steve Shelley's bombastic drumming and Kim Gordon's bass accompanying the guitar heroics of Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore. Their experience showed through most obviously during the noise interludes and outros of the songs as they meticulously built a swarm of dissonant feedback, with Gordon scraping her bass across the stage at one point, only to snap harmoniously back into unison with everyone else a moment later. Sonic Youth continued to prove that, despite their age, they are still in the prime of their live career.
Pavement opened their headlining set with crowd pleaser "Cut Your Hair" with exuberance and energy, as if they had never taken an eleven-year break. Stephen Malkmus' jangly guitar bravado and playful banter with the crowd from the show's start set the mood for what would turn out to be a wonderful set. After Watery, Domestic cut "Frontwards", they moved into what Malkmus referred to as "the California diptych" of "Gold Soundz" and "Shady Lane" (supposedly Irvine and Silverlake, respectively). This made their intention to play crowd favorites clear early. Selecting songs from the breadth of their catalog, they kept mostly to the raucous tunes, rarely breaking out the slower numbers (save for set highlights "Grounded" and "Spit on a Stranger").
The band was congenial and grateful toward the crowd at the Bowl, exactly as one would hope a group in their position to be on one of the final American dates of their reunion tour (that included five NYC shows). Malkmus seemed sincere later in the set as he delivered the chorus of "Stereo", another of the night's highlights, singing excitedly "I'm on the stereo!", almost as if he was legitimately still surprised that people care about his songs. Bob Nastanovich brought great energy to the show the whole night, getting right into the thick of the people at the front of the crowd during Crooked Rain, Crooked Rain gem "Unfair". The swagger and personability of the whole band throughout the night made for a spectacular evening worth waiting the last eleven years for - a successful victory lap for one of indie rock's greats that will hopefully be repeated soon.
Due to time constraints, Pavement didn't get to do an encore though Graeme got a peak at the written setlist which did have "Two States" and "AT&T" listed. The LA crowd still got 17 songs.
Both Sonic Youth and Pavement move on to Vegas for the weekend (where both of their sets will be streamed online from). More pictures and the full Pavement setlist from Hollywood Bowl, and a few videos, below..
Sonic Youth: 'Candle' (live)
Pavement "Spit on a Stranger" Live 9/30/2010 @ the Hollywood Bowl
Pavement "Summer Babe" Live 9/30/2010 @ the Hollywood Bowl
Pavement: "Range Life" (live)
Pavement Concert at Hollywood Bowl, Los Angeles, CA, USA Setlist on September 30, 2010
Cut Your Hair
Rattled By The Rush
Date With Ikea
Spit on a Stranger
In the Mouth a Desert