Sonic Youth | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

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When this band started out in 1981 they were as uselessly "shocking" as the worst of the cut-and-dried underground of then or now. Their big hit at the time was "Death Valley '69," a typical droney, doomy replay of the Manson murders that was about as illuminating as your average TV mini series. They, like so many other bands, partook of the fallacy that simple dramatic reconstruction of horror is an act of artistic derring-do. Somehow, however, in the last two or three years the band has finally learned how to make its bombastic psychodramas signify in more ways than none. In fact, they've learned how to make them soar. Though their shtick is simple and obvious--churning, fuzzy, massively distorted guitars; weird, offhand, off-key melodies; endlessly oscillating tempos and dynamics; singing that at times is slightly cold, other times, slightly alluring, but mostly just matter-of-fact--they work it into such grand and funny any-way-you-choose-it tribute discs (to Madonna, Big Black, Robert Christgau) and into such smart, slippery, and wildly suggestive LPs that it almost makes you believe this rock-and-roll shit could go on forever. Last year, touring off their must-own album Sister--it's their Highway 61 Revisited, and ours, too--they came off like natural neurotics, a band that needed its musical re-creations of psychosocial anarchy more than anybody. This year they're touring off their recently released double-LP Daydream Nation--it's their Blonde on Blonde, their Bitches Brew, their Exile on Fucking Main Street (as they might say)--and I've no reason to expect that their raw need will have settled any. (Mine hasn't. Has yours?) Saturday, 7:30 PM, Cabaret Metro, 3730 N. Clark; 549-0203.

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