Concert Review: Sonic Youth With Neil Young and Social Distortion


March 20, Huntsman Center at 7:30 pm.

After paying 21 bucks to see the long awaited Salt Lake stop for Sonic Youth and Neil Young, it wasn’t half bad.

With the house lights still half on and as the stage crew left, the New York legends, Sonic Youth, entered abruptly.

As Thurston Moore introduces the band, Kim Gordon turns to her amp and turns on a Karen Carpenter recording—played through what sounds like a mono G.E. cassette recorder.

With all the distortion, feedback and guitar antics you’d expect from Sonic Youth, they delivered a highly intense, seven-to-eight-song set, not forgetting to show their innovative attitudes to thousands of Neil Young fans.

Thurston Moore had the dance moves of a psycho-hippie and acrobatic guitar handling finer than anyone else I’ve ever seen live. Kim’s voice in songs such as “Kool Thing” came across very raw and harsh and it reminded me of early Sonic Youth. This was an addition to the intensity of the show, as was the imaginative guitar playing, complete with Ranaldo placing a screwdriver under his guitar strings to give a trademark Song Youth effect.

Between each song there was an array of sounds, guitar changes turned art, what with Moore’s tampering with the quarter-inch plug.

There were many highlights to the show including Steve Shelley’s maraca-snare combination on “Dirty Boots” and my Goo favorite, “Disappearer.”

The climax of the show was the last song that Thurston Moore announced as “Expressway” from the E.V.O.L. LP. This 10 minute conclusion was impressive as well as expressive. Busily engaged in a five-minute ending to the song, the band went into noise anarchy—throwing, standing on and hitting their guitars, disassembling a mic stand and turning various knobs on amps.

After finding Thurston’s guitar thrown next to him, Ranaldo incorporated it by scraping and beating the two guitars together.

The show ended with Thurstons making computer sounds on stage when the house lights were turned on.

The only drawback would be the situation. The band had little audience response and this was expected. But I, and maybe 500 other Sonic Youth fans, spread sparsely throughout the Huntsman Center full of Neil Young fans, gave a positive response to what was a groundbreaking event for SLC’s alternative listeners as well as an eye-opening act for Neil Young fans. 


For more from the SLUG Archives:

January 1990 Tape & Record Reviews

fIREHOSE: Best of the Shows 1989