No Fun Fest @ MHOW – night 2 (Sonic Youth) – pics & video
photos by Lori Baily, words by Andrew Frisicano
Sonic Youth ended the second night of 2009’s No Fun Fest with a seated set of distorted guitar noise and drums. Instead of Lee Ranaldo (who was busy at Cannes?), guitarist Bill Nace performed with the band. (No Mark Ibold either.) The noise shifted from heavy chords, made by drum stick on guitar, to strangely tender sustained feedback and sample-and-hold-esque, skittish riffs. Like a standard SY set, Steve Shelley’s tom-heavy drums weighted the action and marked changes in movements. His pummels echoed the intro to “Wipe Out” as the three others on stage took to twisting SY’s sonic palette into a No Fun appropriate adventure. After one 20-minute-or-so sustained set, the musicians left the stage. A brief encore continued in the same vein. Kim Gordon intoned into the microphone (“I don’t want to leave you behind,” I think), causing not a few crowd-members to peak up with hopes of some classic or The Eternal material. No such luck. After four more minutes of music, the band left for good.
Radio23.org, who streamed the SY set and other parts of the fest live, tweeted, “I think we can excuse the Youth as no one else has delved into short-form improv so far… We liked the 3min30sec encore :)” Other bands on the night’s bill included Blank Dogs, Mattin, C Spencer Yeh, and Pedestrian Deposit. Hearts Arena wrote…
Pedestrian Deposit: Most thrilling set of the fest so far. Even the dillweeds in the audience were quieted by the end of this. Pedestrian Deposit explores and exploits the frayed edges of sound and texture, wherever they find them on the spectrum. Moving with aplomb from penetrating high ends to heaving silences pulled back from the edge of explosive noise and percussion and then off to the final gorgeous tones of the cello. Soft landing. Everybody in that room knew that something special had just happened. Me, ecstatic.
Yellow Tears was the unexpected surprise of the night, winning over everyone in the room with their meticulosuly warped sample manipulations and sounds. Out of all the bands, here’s one that took the twenty minute time slot and really found inspiration, breaking into sweat and taking off their shirts, and getting genuinely into it. The stage was illuminated by a single bright red light bulb. The best part of the set was the member who kept striking a large scrap of metal and sending it through various effects processors, throwing it onto the ground and making a spectacle yet wrenching some pretty freaking insane and wicked sounds from it. Their energy was welcome and the crowd response was thunderously approving from the sold-out crowd. A dude on the L train was raving about them on the way back, displaying the record he bought of theirs; I have a feeling he’s not the only one.
Bardo Pond played a set right before Sonic Youth, and a few others played the second night too. Who was your favorite? Review and pictures from Night One, HERE. More pictures and videos from Night Two, below...
Sons of God
Rafael Toral with C. Spencer Yeh
Night one HERE.