St. Losers

Sonic Youth's on tour, and once again St. Louis isn't on the itinerary. Why does punk rock's most formidable institution slight us?

That Sonic Youth still sounds like Sonic Youth at all is remarkable, given that all their gear was stolen during the last tour. Just being able to play older songs again meant rebuilding an armada of vintage amplifiers and guitars and then restringing and retuning everything. Ranaldo concurs that the loss of the equipment was a tragedy but notes that some songs would have been lost along the way, regardless of the theft: "Our working method is such that the more new songs we write, the more tunings we inevitably invent, and therefore the more guitars we need to carry on the road to continue doing a wide range of songs. At some point this number reaches critical mass, and some tunes just have to be eliminated for purely space/weight reasons (shipping gear is expensive!).... On our current tour we are making an effort to relearn some songs we haven't played in quite some time. As we don't play in standard tuning, this means having to remember what tunings they were in and what the fingering positions were like, etc. -- which can sometimes be quite daunting. But we're trying. I do wish we had a larger repertoire on any given tour, so we had more 'old' songs to draw from, but partly it's down to matters of space and time."

Sonic Youth: Too good for the Lou?
Sonic Youth: Too good for the Lou?

Ah, yes, the current tour: This brings us to the present, where space and time collide to make the now and the ever-possible future. Sonic Youth will grace Chicago's Metro for two shows on August 17 and 18, and then history's ripples will drive them to Minneapolis and on to the West Coast. St. Louis remains mired in Sonic Youth's past, the town that broke a stranger's heart. At least we have that shared history and the promise of future albums to make our loneliness bearable. Come back, Sonic Youth. We miss you.

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