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I thought it was about time to revisit a band that continues to worm it's way back into my mind every few months from first really becoming part of my collection not that long ago. Sonic Youth may not be a band for everyone with their complex, screeching noise rock fueled compositions. For those of us who are fans of this band though, they are unlike absolutely any other with a raw intensity unlike anything else, especially in a live setting where they can really open up and channel a sort of primal rage of expression into musical form.
I have not been lucky enough to see Sonic Youth live in person, something I do hope to rectify at some point in my life. In the mean time though, we have the Internet, YouTube and music lovers like SONICchout.
This video clip is of "Junkies Promise" and is part 5 of 12 or 13 of a complete show from Germany in 1996 uploaded by SONICchout.
I chose this particular clip because I think it offers a good demonstration of the raw intensity of Sonic Youth live. Everything is pushed, gaining energy and grit turning an already visceral composition into something that cuts right through to the core. Few bands can channel this kind of power on stage, and this is primarily in a compositional format. Things really start to get intense when they really break into free form noise rock carnage like to opening to this next clip of "Starfield Road," part 3 from the same show
Guitar mauling at it's finest this is like pure emotional spontaneity... the most primal of emotions... captured in sound and turned up to 11. The recorded versions of these songs and so many others from this band are intense in their own right, but, just like with most bands, everything is taken to another level live. This I think is a key part of why Sonic Youth have such an amazing legacy. Compositionally these songs are complex and intellectual, but when played in a live setting, the band seems to really come alive and make them more than just compositions. The songs become a conduit for raw emotional energy, unleashing it in blasts of artistic fury that the band and the audience get caught up in.
Maybe it's because I'm a fan of the band, and a noise rock fan in general, but seeing Sonic Youth live, if these clips are any indication, has to be one of the most intense concert experiences of all time.
This entire show is great, so if you're a fan of the band, I highly recommend you check out this show from Germany '96 that SONICchout has uploaded... all 12 pr 13 odd parts. Now here's what's really cool. Not only has SONICchout uploaded one show, but they've uploaded multiple shows from different venues and times. Plenty of great concert footage to be seen so feel free to spend a while checking out the whole collection.
Thanks to SONICchout for the great footage both of this show and the rest... I'm so thrilled to see it... and extra special thanks to Sonic Youth for not only being great songwriters, but one heck of a live band that takes intensity to a whole new level.