If you hung out in New York’s Soho neighborhood in the early 1980s, chances are you could’ve caught an early Sonic Youth performing in an avant-garde loft space. A lot has changed in the last three decades. Last night, to celebrate the release of their terrific new album The Eternal, the indie-rock heroes returned to the now-gentrified neighborhood to perform a short-but-sweet set at the Apple store.
Of course, the vibe was a little weird: Sonic Youth are more suited to performing in dingy rock clubs than in a space normally dedicated to Photoshop tutorials. During the set, bespectacled fans fiddled with their iPhones as they sat quietly in comfy, fold-out chairs. As singer-bassist-guitarist Kim Gordon quipped mid-way through the show, “It’s so quiet, one would think this was a temple to technology.”
Still, the overall vibe didn’t detract from Sonic Youth’s monster set, which mostly focused on killer new tunes like the raging “Anti-Orgasm,” the propulsive “Leaky Lifeboat (For Gregory Corso)” or the hauntingly majestic “Antenna.” When Sonic Youth returned for a one-song encore, they whipped out Lee Ranaldo’s Daydream Nation gem “Hey Joni,â€ a paen to embracing the future and disdaining nostalgia. It was a fitting choice: here were four alt-rock heroes returning to their old stomping grounds, where art galleries and artists lofts have since been replaced by high-end restaurants and boutiques.
But it wasn’t like Sonic Youth were bummed out by the loss of the New York they remember as a younger band. As Ranaldo sang during the track, “Forget the past — and just say yes!”