Sonic Youth heroes Thurston Moore and Steve Shelley visited Vancouver in support of the Thurston Moore Band’s upcoming album effort The Best Day. The signature styles of the two iconic musicians comfortably falling into familiar sonic youth driven territory. Including guitarist James Sedwards and My Bloody Valentine bassist Debbie Googe the Thurston Moore band fronts an audio assault confidently anchored with Shelley’s clockwork rhythms. Supported by ‘90s underground rockers Sebadoh, the Thurston Moore Band packed Biltmore Cabaret and let loose an evening of sardonic attitude and glistening jams to an ecstatic audience.
Sebadoh sprang into being after Dinosaur Jr’s guitarist/vocalist J Mascis reformed the band without co-founding bassist Lou Barlow. Setting up shop with Massachusetts native and lo-fi enthusiast Eric Gaffney, Lou Barlow founded Sebadoh developed an authentic flavour of uncompromised ‘90s alternative rock. Propelled by a buoyant and pounding bass, Sebadoh’s music consists of a honed aestheticism with catchy guitar progressions and a savoury bass tone. Accessible, edgy and optimistic, Sebadoh brings to mind the driving rock pop of Thin Lizzy. The club was at capacity; a long line of concert hopefuls waited in vain as the crowd trickled inside. Beginning at 9:30 sharp, Sebadoh managed to pack in a solid hour and 15 minute set. Playing the title track from their 1991 debut Gimme Indie Rock Sebadoh let loose their brand of humour with grunge culture reflections: “Getting loose with the Pussy Galore / Cracking jokes like a Thurston Moore.” Given the co headlining circumstance, the lyric felt extra legitimate. If anything, Thurston Moore has a reoccurring issue of touring with such talented musicians that they often match or exceed his own sets. On his last Vancouver visit, Moore toured with a budding solo artist named Kurt Vile; his openers are well worth seeing.
The high quality double bill felt almost redundant given the reverence of the audience towards the headliner. It’s been years since Thurston visited town and even longer since he’s had the backing of iconic percussionist Steve Shelley. A tight pop style inviting to extended crescendos and abstract noise jams, Shelley is a quintessential ingredient of the legendary New York city art punk band Sonic Youth. Shelley supports Sonic Youth’s other guitarist on Lee Ranaldo &The Dust; The Dust are a quality live band and Shelley does Thurston Moore & co similar justice.
Supported by Shelley’s snappy signature percussive style, Moore’s voice rolls with energy, wit and formidably. Thurston still bears the awkward teenager look he donned in the early ‘90s; no matter, he still has the style and attitude to back it up. Chiming, irregularly tuned guitars built and culminated into tasteful solos, trebled melodies and distorted bliss. Comfortably sprawled in a live setting, the material from the forthcoming record The Best Day was gorgeous but exceedingly similar to existing Sonic Youth pieces. Thurston Moore had originally written the Rather Ripped album as a solo effort before sharing his contributions with his band mates; this material bears sounds similar to menacing and colourful solo driven vein of “Pink Steam” or the sprawling melodies of “Diamond Sea.” With a career as long and productive as Sonic Youth, some repeated roads may be forgiven, or even celebrated. Moore has written some stunning solo work featuring acoustic guitar and string sections; he is back with an electric band where he shines brightest.