The Sonics are an energetic garage group formed in Tacoma Washington back in the early 60s. They played fierce style of unrestrained rock and roll, and played in clubs and theatres all around the North West in the 60s but were more or less unrecognized elsewhere. They have since been recognized as an influential act by scores of artists, from Sublime to the Black Lips and are worshiped by rock and punk fans alike. Recently the original Sonics members reconvened for some good old-fashioned rock n’ roll and not only have they found that they not been forgotten, but that they are an increasingly acknowledged influence on new generations of music. After playing in their hometown with grunge rockers Mudhoney for support, The Sonics returned to Vancouver in tight and enthusiastic form.
The stage was well warmed by the opening bands both figuratively and literally, (hometown act The Vicious Cycles had a jam with a Theremin lit on fire), the second band, a two-piece Seattle project, were a surprising pleasure. With a thick fuzzy guitar tone and style reminiscent of Midwestern blues, My Goodness have a heavy Seattle aesthetic. Vocalist/guitarist Joel Schneider sounded very similar to Eddy Vedder. Drummer Andy Lum’s speed and dynamics help set the group apart from the many contemporary garage blues bands in current operation. With a forthcoming 7” to be released, My Goodness show promise and will hopefully return soon to a Vancouver stage in the not too distant future.
The Sonics themselves were introduced by Nardwuar, who gave a spirited history lesion about the Sonics turning down a request to jam from a young Jimi Hendrix at the Smiling Buddha Cabaret and the early success of the band’s singles in the city. The band crashed through the standard “Money”, complete with accompanying Saxophone and an occasional harmonica solo. The Sonics have been musicians for over half a century and they can still rock; a smile across the face of each band member suggested that there is nowhere that they would rather be, exclaiming insisting that they had not forgotten Canada and that they would return to play on another day. Guitarist Larry Parypa choose not to walk off stage for the encore and instead played a short solo jam before the band returned to close with some of their most signature songs, the delicious, wild and danceable singles “Strychnine” and “The Witch.”
It’s a positive thing when music fans across the age spectrum; it’s a sign of a really memorable band. While there were a healthy number of veteran rock fans (one audience member commented they hadn’t see the Sonics in 49 years) the majority of the crowd was on their feet, on the floor and dancing their hearts out. Or moshing their hearts out as it were. During the show I witnessed hair pulling, had someone hanging off the back of my shirt and rescued a fellow’s audience member’s glasses after they were knocked off. It was wild. For the many inspired garage enthusiasts, nostalgic veteran 60s fans and hipster kids from commercial drive out to see their musical heroes’ heroes, it was a real sonic evening.