Since the Boy came into our lives it's been hard going trying to make concert trips into the city. I was never the type to hit a couple concerts a week like some people I can mention (lucky bastard), but I do loves me the occasional foray into the Big Apple for a show, be it in a large venue or an intimate club. When the opportunity came that Indie Maven Sean had an extra ticket for the Sonic Youth show Friday night up at the United Palace Theater in Washington Heights, I made it an effort to get out there.
The United Palace Theater, if you've never been there, is actually an old movie palace that was converted into an enormous church. The church is still very much active, but the place is converted into an awesome place to see a show on certain evenings. In keeping with the miraculous surroundings, we actually arrived early enough to grab some swag and down a couple beers before the show started.
The opening band was a three-piece called The Entrance Band (formerly just called Entrance), a very 70s influenced rock/blues combo that wouldn't be out of place stoned on a shag carpet. Lots of great guitar noodling, a dedication to Michael Jackson, and a very different vibe from the main act.
Officially the loudest, heaviest show I've ever seen, and I mostly listen to Death and Black Metal. I think a lot of casual listeners to Sonic Youth forget that, underneath all the layers of noise and distortion, all the things that stamped them with their "noise/experimental" status, there's a real pop sensibility, an emphasis on melody and groove that always propel things forward. There was quite a bit from fantastic new album The Eternal, and then a ton of older material, especially toward the end. Two encores, great extended cuts of songs, and a crowd that stood the entire time made this an incredible show.
We weren't that far away from the stage, but my new phone (alas) has a crappy camera for distance. For a closer look at the show, along with a smattering of the songs that were played, check out Sean's photo review over at Spectacular Views.