Sonic Youth live in Düsseldorf, Germany in April of 1996. As my buddy Nick points out in the email he sent me with this link: “ridiculously good quality and a killer setlist.”
Most of the setlist is from the Washing Machine record, which is the last SY record I really listened to a lot…or maybe it was A Thousand Leaves in ’98. I don’t know. I loved the band so intensely in my youth that I don’t really listen to Goo or Dirty that much anymore because I have all these dumb fucking feelings invested in them. (I still listen to Sister or Daydream Nation every now and then).
Watching this concert today—sometimes on as a background humbuzz brrr—it hit me that, Oh, hell, that was twenty years ago. I claim to hate nostalgia but oh remember when, right? ’96 was an election year, but I don’t remember having any real opinions. I was a senior in high school but I couldn’t vote. My voting didn’t seem necessary. I thought the President sucked because he was the President, and the President sucks like a President should. The nineties were slack. What’s the cliche? Halcyon. We complained that shitty alternative rock ruled the radio. Bad Things happened in other places. I covered the rise of the Taliban for my school newspaper, which meant plagiarizing The New York Times. History was over, our culture assured us. But then 2000 election—when I voted for Nader—in Florida! The Supreme Court Fiasco. Florida. 9/11. The wars, the torture, the rise of a police state, in so many senses of the term. Katrina—the abject failure of government to do anything for its citizens, somehow, in spite of all the assurances that it could do something. The recession, the hope, the change, the bailouts, the wars, etc. (Somewhere in there Thurston and Kim divorced, basically ending Sonic Youth).
Look at me ranting here beneath an embedded YouTube video about shit you already know. It’s fucking boring. Blame it on red wine and a bizarre prolonged dread. 2016 has been like a panic attack slowed down one million percent. It’s a bad Ballard story, a premise that Pynchon would reject. It’s so ugly. The zeitgeist is beyond absurdity, beyond parody. The Onion isn’t a comedy, it’s our Grand National Tragedy (which can only be told through irony). Our culture wars seem to be entirely embedded into late capitalism, into buying things, into investing in reboots of existing franchise properties owned by multinational corporations. Etc. I’ll try not to worry so hard, try not to grind my teeth so much. Maybe I won’t even delete all this, which was for me, and not for you.