POP MUSIC REVIEW : Sonic Youth Showcases Artistic Maturity at Wiltern
Playing at the stately Wiltern Theatre on Saturday, Sonic Youth was bound to reveal sounds usually lost at its more usual venues, such as the previous night’s echoing Hollywood Palladium and Lollapalooza ’95’s outdoor amphitheaters. But maybe the most unexpected sounds were the shouts of “sit down!” from a few audience members aimed at standing fans.
Stately doesn’t have to mean sedate, and most of the audience, heeding bassist Kim Gordon’s exhortations, remained upright. In fact, the theater setting and the stunning lighting effects actually heightened the visceral elements of the influential New York band’s dense, exploratory mosaics. The clanging guitar weavings of Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo had a richness that surpassed that of the veteran group’s recordings, let alone its normal concerts.
Concentrating on material from the new “Washing Machine” album--featuring subtly crafted homages to such influences as Patti Smith, John Coltrane, the Byrds and Brian Wilson--the quartet realized the tricky mating of rock power and chamber-group clarity with metallic majesty. Here’s to a sonic maturity.
The second-billed Amps, a new quartet fronted by Pixies and Breeders member Kim Deal, offered strummy garage-rock that, like the car invoked in the title of its new debut album “Pacer,” was clunky but endearing. Local hero Mike Watt packed his most immediate and powerful material into his short opening set, spotlighting the inventive guitar work of Nels Cline.