Alternative rock once ruled the music halls and radio-waves, but that was ages (certainly decades) ago.
Among the most influential groups in alt/indie rock, Sonic Youth ended as a band in 2011, and it was a tabloid affair for indie rockers’ media sphere, since they had been the foremost alt-rock band in the States for two decades, led by Thurston Moore and his wife Kim Gordon with Lee Renaldo since 1981.
However, Thurston Moore has had his own group since then carrying on the torch as a sonic rocker and experimenter continually expanding his horizons, but not at all with the attitude of “no looking back.”
His current tour is for their most recent album “Spirit Council” an artistic tour de force in his wide discography. It is a collection of three exceptionally-long instrumental compositions recorded between 2018-19 representing a period of his life reflecting on spiritual matters, collective musical friendships, and overall, a meditative sonic exploration—a deeply reflective effort both compelling and explosive.
Just as Bob Dylan dissected his failed relationship in one of his best albums “Blood on the Tracks,” Moore’s “Spirit Council” could be acknowledged as a similar gesture, but in epic instrumental tracks. After all, Sonic Youth broke up due to the separation of Moore and Gordon, both co-founders and soul mates after a long relationship that began with their rise from the New York scene in the early 80s.
They rose from the punk scene but then forged an alternative/indie rock sound like no other. When the punk zeitgeist in America suddenly ended with Nirvana’s leader Kurt Cobain’s suicide in 1994, Sonic Youth rose to the occasion as the new leaders of a post-punk, alternative rock sound merging the 80s with the 90s, punk in spirit, but at the core a visionary guitar rock group without gimmicks.
Most distinctive for their high-velocity guitar assaults alternated with a punk-pop growl, their later recordings also became most influential to the best-known post-rock groups around including Mogwai, Sigur Ros, and Godspeed You! Black Emperor. Especially in their later live shows with songs like “Hits of Sunshine (for Allen Ginsberg),” etc. they explored improv-jams midway in sets like the Grateful Dead. Yet Sonic Youth seems to be hardly known to younger rock music fans and too bad.
Thurston Moore’s group on this tour includes Debbie Googe, the bassist of the legendary My Bloody Valentine, Sonic Youth’s drummer Steve Shelley, and the English guitarist James Sedwards. This same line-up last played Prague’s Lucerna Music Bar touring their debut album “The Best Day” in 2014.
While Sonic Youth’s first concert ever in Prague was a sold-out event in the early 90s, in the Grand Lucerna Ballroom in 1993, headlining a tour with Pavement and Sebadoh. The last performance of Sonic Youth in Prague was another sold-out event, but this time at the smaller Divadlo Archa in 2007.