Everyone knew what was coming when Sonic Youth took the stage Friday to close out the first evening of this year's Pitchfork Music Festival, but the little forest of guitars, all lined up behind the amplifiers, only heightened the anticipation for "Daydream Nation," the band's 1988 masterpiece, in its entirety. (Slint and rapper the GZA also performed.)
The Chicago Reader alt-weekly newspaper noted Friday that Sonic Youth has "passed indisputably into middle age," and it's true: The genre-defining alt-rock band no longer comprises a bunch of kids.
But middle age hasn't slowed Sonic Youth at all.
From the opening notes of "Teenage Riot," the quartet was a blur of energy. Guitarists Thurston Moore (at right) and Lee Renaldo leaped and thrashed around as the band alternated between chugging melodic passages and forays into feedback and noise. Bassist Kim Gordon, the den mother of alternative rock, paced back and forth, and the band's joyous churning set the packed-in crowd jumping up and down. (Moore and Gordon live in Northampton.)
Hearing a band perform an entire album from start to finish is an odd sort of thing. There are no surprises when the set list mirrors the track list, but witnessing it live offers a different understanding about how the parts fit together into a whole. Sonic Youth made it a thrilling experience.