We don’t want to say we’re starved for good live rock music in Shanghai … but we are starved for good live rock music in Shanghai. Live here long enough and you gradually forget exactly how good it feels to stand up near the stage and get lost in a rock band that knows exactly what they are doing, a band you would pay to see even if you weren’t living in China, a band that has actually released original and relevant material this millennium. Well, last night at Shanghai Concert Hall, for two feedback infused hours, Sonic Youth reminded us how sublime an experience that can be. And now we want more. We need more.
To say the Sonic Youth show was the best we’ve seen in Shanghai is akin to saying Henry’s is “the best brewery & grill on the Bund.” Really, who else has there been? The Mayflies? Maximo Park? (We didn’t attend the Rolling Stones gig.) Good shows, yes. But Sonic Youth, a band built for playing live, raised the bar last night. Will anyone be able to reach it?
We have to admit to being a little concerned about the liveliness of last night’s gig upon entering the Shanghai Concert Hall — people seemed to be napping in their cushy seats. We could have just as easily been there for a school assembly. There was no beer or alcohol on sale, yet plenty of bottled water. But one of the benefits of seeing a show in such a venue (other than the fact that it is intimate and beautiful) is that there is almost no security. So once the band took the stage (around 8:49 pm) it was uncommonly easy for us to migrate from the 19th row to about five feet from the stage. And up there, the atmosphere, like the scads of guitars the band used throughout the show, was electric. And, yes Beijing, there were stage dives in Shanghai, several of them.
Great, great show. Oh, if only Sonic Youth were playing a secret free gig at another Shanghai live music venue tonight.
- Thurston Moore did not wear his “Shanghai Surprise” movie T-shirt as he said he would. Probably a good move.
- We were going to describe Sonic Youth as “ageless” but then realized we’d be the eighteen-thousand-two-hundred-and-first website to do so. But they really seemed to enjoy themselves up there (yes, even Kim Gordon … especially Kim Gordon). Lots of fan interaction.
- Lee Ranaldo plays a mean guitar.
- We learned that we actually like “noise.”
- We’re pretty sure the T-shirts on sale were leftovers from the Sonic Nurse tour.
- Crowd seemed to be a pretty even split between locals and expats.