Intensities in Ten Suburbs

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Geek Out: Daydream Nation Live in its Entirety

Posted by Andrew Unterberger on April 2, 2007

Some thoughts are best kept to yourself. Unless you have a blog, anyway.

Sonic Youth’s last three albums, 2002’s Murray Street, 2004’s Sonic Nurse and 2006’s Rather Ripped, have returned the band to a state of a critical do-no-wrong worship after a series of more experimental but lukewarmly received affairs. It’s an extremely enviable position to be in for a band of their age (25 years since Confusion is Sex this year), but it’s hard not to feel like these albums are being acclaimed simply for being above average Sonic Youth albums as opposed to anything new or interesting. Perfectly listenable records, sure, but nothing really to get excited about.

Far more exciting is the news announced recently that Sonic Youth is going to make the dreams of just about every indie kid of the last 20 years come true, by performing their 1988 album Daydream Nation in its entirety at a number of tour dates this summer. Unfortunately, by “a number of tour dates,” I more accurately mean only three (so far, anyway)–one in California, one in Chicago (at the Pitchfork festival) and one in California. West Coasters get all the breaks.

Still, it’s the kind of news that makes me want to start planning a road trip. For a whole lot of people, Daydream Nation is the single cornerstone album of all post-punk underground rock, with Pitchfork naming it their #1 album of the 80s and even the Library of Congress deeming it was worthy enough of inclusion in their National Recording Registry. Some superfans might prefer Sister or one of their other earlier works (or some really brave souls might cop to preferring the significantly less hip but only slightly inferior Dirty), but even in a cataolgue as rich as Sonic Youth’s, Daydream stands alone.

And indeed, I can’t think of too many other albums I’d rather hear played in their entirety. It’s a 10.0, close to the very definition of one, and my favorite songs on it change every time I hear it–it used to be swaggering road-tripper “Total Trash” and classic-rock bid “Hey Joni,” these days I’m more into the hypnotic bliss of the outro to “The Sprawl” and the moody rumblings and white noise short-outs of “Rain King.” What’s more, it would be staggering to see the album recreated in a live format–I can see epic album closer “Trilogy” going on for at least 40 minutes, and I doubt I’d begrudge it a second.

But the real thrill here is just how improbable the whole thing is. Even during their most commercial periods, Sonic Youth have always been defiantly DIY at heart, and even though I heard reports of them playing Rather Ripped in its entirety on the album’s tour, to revisit their commonly perceived masterpiece in such a straightforward manner seems downright crowdpleasing for the Youth. I’m almost nervous for July to get here, before they have a chance to realize what a conventional (if historic) move they’re making and call the whole thing off.

So, anyone up for a road trip to Chicago this July? I call first mix tape.

(Editor’s Note: To anyone who viewed this post between the hours of 6:00 and 10:00 and wondered why it seemed so incomplete, it’s because I accidentally hit “publish” instead of “save for later” when I only had half of it done and had to leave for class. Apologies.)

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2 Responses to “Geek Out: Daydream Nation Live in its Entirety”

  1. john said

    you should totally come. the whole weekend is going to be awesome.

  2. joe said

    Oh! I’m ready for it, c’mon bring it.

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