Sonic Youth Massey Hall, Toronto ON June 30

Sonic Youth Massey Hall, Toronto ON June 30
Photo: Carrie Musgrave
After a decade and a half of playing the drab Kool Haus in Toronto, Sonic Youth were finally treated as the royalty they are and received an upgrade to the prestigious Massey Hall. The gig marked an exciting period in the band's lifetime, as they've returned to the independent scene they basically instituted with a new album on Matador. So pleased are they with The Eternal, their 16th studio album, the vets decided to perform the album in its entirety, complete with compliant flashing lights and a spacious stage. Kicking off with the 28-year-old "She Is Not Alone," the now five-piece (including former Pavement bassist Mark Ibold) wasted no time getting into it, as Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore began their own teenage riot, assaulting their Jazzmasters with drumsticks. Kim Gordon, dressed in a silver mini dress, looked half her 56 years, shimmying around to new single "Sacred Trickster." From there on in it was all about SY circa 2009, as they ran through ten more new ones, like any young band looking to promote their new record. While it may not have been what most of the crowd was anticipating, it was hard to argue that their more riff-rockin' material didn't sound amazing in a venue that places sound above anything else, most notably the acoustic tinge of "Massage the History." As the night wore on though, the band rolled out a finish that gave seasoned fans their fix, thrashing about to Sister's "Pacific Coast Highway," before encoring with Evol's ominous opener "Tom Violence" and Daydream Nation's luminescent "The Sprawl." Without a doubt, it was the exclamatory finale where they dusted off Bad Moon Rising's menacing "Death Valley 69" that left everyone in attendance feeling their wishes had been fulfilled. I still don't believe the band's core is in their 50s, because even after three decades nobody expels "sonic youth" quite like Sonic Youth.