The Thurston Moore Band Blasts through my earplugs at Webster Hall’s Marlin Room on 12-11-14
The Scene at Webster Hall
When I arrived at Webster Hall, the crowd was upbeat and conversational despite having had to wait awhile outside in the December air! This cool looking NYC crowd [replete with winter coats and hats] was happy, flocking to the open bar while silk screen printer Hit and Run pressed free posters in neon paint!
Tonight, Thurston Moore, the Godfather of Grunge, was going to play songs from his latest album THE BEST DAY.
Like a lot of people there, I was psyched to see what Thurston Moore, the master of sonic distortion, had in store. I’d seen Sonic Youth perform several years back, but had only recently learned he was a verified part of the Grunge scene. Heck, he literally wrote the book on Grunge! So it was totally cool when he lightly walked onstage in sneakers, black pants and a retro patterned shirt. He looked relaxed. And Tall.
Almost as soon as the band was onstage, they began tuning. Their harmonics soon wove into their first song, “Forevermore”. Thurston’s antics were muscular and had a sexual element, as he approached the front of the stage and towered over the front row. He played his guitar straight from his pelvis, practically in the face of an adoring fan. I was actually taken by surprise at how close he was willing to get to audience.
After the first song, the crowd showed our appreciation and I could tell people were psyched.
The band stopped to tune again, this time bending their harmonics as the drummer’s snare counted off to a burst of droning guitar and bass sound for “Speak To The Wild”. I began to notice how cool bassist Deb Googe was; she was a strong and confident musician. I had no idea until today, that she played with Primal Scream AND My Bloody Valentine! In the middle of the song, they all bent their harmonics again and then continued back into the main song.
Afterwards, Thurston went up to the mic:
Thank you, nice to be here. We’re who they say we are.
This next song was written for and dedicated to Chelsea Manning, professional whistle blower… please send your thoughts and wishes to her. It’s called “Detonation” and it (also) dedicated to our new friend Masha of Pussy Riot.
Then they kicked off “Detonation” with a wall of noise!
After “Detonation”, Thurston Moore went to the mic and wished us a “Merry Christmas everybody”. We cheered! Then he and the band did their alternate tunings [by the way, they tuned after each song. Epic!]
Okay, I’m in tune. Thanks for the serenade of Tuning! This is the title track off our album, “The Best Day”.
Next, Thurston toasted “l’chaim” to us and took a drink. Then they all went back to tuning. A wall of harmonic sound soon began “Grace Lake” and people were grooving to it. It was such heavy noise that some people [myself included] had to cover their ears! The sound was intense and Thurston seemed to be meditating within that cacophony of sound, rigidly walking among the sonic distortion as if in a trance. No wonder he’s a sonic master!
After the epic sound of “Grace Lake” Thurston thanked everyone, “Thank you, we love you New York City” and waved to the audience before he and the band exited quickly from the stage. I met music journalist Charlie Crespo, who happened to be standing next to me and we chatted about the concert.
We cheered. We yelled for more. They listened.
For the encore, we were all treated to “Pretty Bad” off Thurston Moore’s first album PSYCHIC HEARTS. Then they left the stage again.
We cheered. We applauded again, harder this time, and Mr. Moore listened.
They came back out and played “Ono Soul” off PSYCHIC HEARTS which had so much distortion that certain harmonics made my head swim and feel funny. I actually think they were hitting certain alpha waves!
Finally, Thurston left us with the following words:
See you around. Protest.
The Thurston Moore Band’s new album THE BEST DAY will give you a taste of what you’ll hear live, but I’ve got to tell you, you need to see Thurston Moore in concert. There’s so much more depth and energy to the music when it’s live. And I got the sense they were also treating us to some sonic improvisation as well. It blew people away! So if you have the chance to see Thurston Moore, Go! Not only will you hear his experimental “noise rock”, you’ll get to see a real living part of modern music history.
Thurston Moore, rock on!
Here are my photos from the show: