By David Courtright; photo by Michael Koenig (full gallery HERE)
Thurston Moore may well be the Renaissanciest man in indie rock. Aside from being the songwriter and guitarist for what many consider to be the pivotal band in the evolution of indie rock music, Moore also moonlights as a director, National Geographic channel narrator, music writer, and label owner. It was a rare treat to see him in such close quarters, at Goat Farm’s austere turn-of-the-century warehouse, Goodson Yard.
Those accustomed to Sonic Youth’s noise were not disappointed by the largely-acoustic set up of Moore’s band — they managed to bring the house down. His recent album, Demolished Thoughts, is an intricate and layered meditation on the dissolution of time and happiness. With help from new and long-time collaborators, Beck included, Moore’s latest is yet another gem in a long string of precious stones.
He managed to make a 12-string acoustic guitar sound like an apocalypse. Even with a harp in tow, this band rocked. Behind the band were projections in what looked like old 8 millimeter, some of parties, others of Moore himself — on a beach, with a guitar. The first song descended into chaos only six minutes in, with Moore feeding back into his amp and holding his guitar over his head. Next was “Mina Loy,” a favorite from the new album, with a typically-Mooreish alternate tuning and syncopation. The lyrics are stunning: “Found a diamond in the gutter/On an early morning freeze/In your mouth it turns to water/Onyx eyes swallow me.”
What impresses me the most about Moore’s work, and his live performance as well, is his ability to walk that line between tension and complete disintegration. His songs have such an intense duality: one of careful menace, but also of real, considered emotion. There is no affectation, only the complexity of the human capacity to feel, delivered cryptically and with a an almost severe confidence.
The show had a lot of humor to it as well, with performance aspects and spoken-word pieces. A highlight was Moore’s poetry interludes. A line stuck with me: “Blessed are the noise musicians, for they are going down in history — way, way down.” This is a veteran of the scene, still delivering time and time again.