Thurston Moore The Texas Theatre Friday, February 10
After re-listening to last year's Demolished Thoughts a few weeks ago, there was an added psychic layer to the experience. When I heard Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon had divorced a few months ago after close to three decades of marriage, I felt conflicted. I'm not a proponent of the institution but, like many women and men who grew up idealizing Sonic Youth's couple, I thought it was totally forever, a sacred bond forged over fantastic record collections and creative partnership that few of us will ever find. So the emotional weight of the album is palpable.
I was curious how, if at all, that would translate at the Texas Theatre on Friday night. Moore strode onstage in a suit jacket and tie, and proceeded to give a short punk rock lecture, mainly because he couldn't find his guitar pick. "We're a band with no name," he said. "Call us 'Dushku.'" He read some poetry before the first song, and there was a moment of panic that Moore, 53, would buy a Ferrari and take up yoga, figuratively speaking.
That feeling went away once they eased into opener "In Silver Rain With a Paper Key." It took harpist Mary Lattimore, guitarist Keith Wood and drummer John Malone (of Hush Arbors) and violinist Samara Lubelski that song to find their footing, and it wasn't but three or four more before the first acoustic guitar drone-out, with Moore, Wood and Lubelski all bending towards Malone in a bit of sonic prayer, while Lattimore picked away furiously at her instrument, like any good noise harpist does.
They a did Psychic Hearts triptych: The title track, "Queen Bee and Her Pals" and "Ono Soul," the latter of which led into another noise bridge, as Moore and Wood placed acoustics to amps for maximum squall. Right after, Moore deadpanned: "You do realize we're a soft-rock act now." He took off his jacket and tie. It was cool dad time.
There was a slight intermission during which Moore started off on a tangent about hardcore documentaries. "In the early '80s, pressure was a very popular topic in hardcore songs, remember that? Every band had a song about pressure." A crowd member interrupted with a plea to "rock and roll," so he did.
Elsewhere, Moore wondered aloud where exactly the band was in Dallas. "Is there a curfew here?" he asked."Are there no laws in this town?"
I really hoped Moore would pull a Legends of Springsteen and play for 15 hours; he was in quite the talkative mood, a fact that was sort of ruined by people yelling random shit at him. Still, Moore didn't discourage it. "I like dialogue," he said, addressing members of the crowd that had left their seats and gathered at the edge of the stage. "Is this the pit?"
There was a nice balance between the loud and quiet, which has always been SY's strong point. Moore's never been the best lyricist, but seeing him take an acoustic guitar out of the singer-songwriter context and completely repurpose it to fit his own aesthetic was the impressive part.
The encore took down more Psychic Hearts material: "See-Through Playmate," "Staring Statues" and "Patti Smith Math Scratch," which all sounded a bit louder than the main set. "Patti" closed the night with another fine extended jam, Moore now focused and loosened, the complete opposite of his button-up intro.
By the way: One audience member actually yelled "Freebird" between songs. Another person yelled "What's your point?" after Moore went off on one of his musical tangents. These are the times when I wish people could get slimed for saying stupid things at concerts.
Random notebook dump: Props to Spune for getting this show into the Texas Theatre. The place wasn't packed, but that worked to further the intimate vibe Moore created.