Sonic Youth | Theater Critic's Choice | Chicago Reader

Arts & Culture » Theater Critic's Choice

Sonic Youth


Sign up for our newsletters Subscribe


Multi-instrumentalist Jim O'Rourke left Sonic Youth after 2004's Sonic Nurse, and because the stripped-back, streamlined performances on the band's latest, Rather Ripped (Geffen), have a liberated eagerness that's at odds with his penchant for elaborate arrangements and just-so studio treatments, it's tempting to attribute the album's sound to his departure. But even a half-awake listen to Sonic Nurse makes it clear the band was already headed this way, and in a recent Wire interview singer-guitarist Thurston Moore suggested a more credible reason for the current direction: his immersion in the international free-improv underground gives him so many other places to make noise that he doesn't need to bring any to Sonic Youth. Rather Ripped's songs are lean and succinct, with nary a wasted gesture. On "Reena," the opening track, Kim Gordon's lyrics about a scenester's breakdown read like a series of bullet points, and the guitars stick close to the hook instead of peeling off into their trademark chaotic extrapolations. And the Moore-fronted "Sleepin Around" quickly abandons an initial feedback eruption to achieve escape velocity with a hurtling Velvetsy groove. Sonic Youth performs on the second day of Lollapalooza; for a complete schedule see page 42. At 11 PM the band plays a free afterfest show with Feist at Double Door, but tickets must be won through WXRT; visit for details. Sat 8/5, 4:30 PM, Bud Light Stage, Lollapalooza, Grant Park, Columbus & Congress, 866-915-6552, $65 for a one-day pass, $150 for a three-day pass. All ages.

Support Independent Chicago Journalism: Join the Reader Revolution

We speak Chicago to Chicagoans, but we couldn’t do it without your help. Every dollar you give helps us continue to explore and report on the diverse happenings of our city. Our reporters scour Chicago in search of what’s new, what’s now, and what’s next. Stay connected to our city’s pulse by joining the Reader Revolution.

Are you in?

  Reader Revolutionary $35/month →  
  Rabble Rouser $25/month →  
  Reader Radical $15/month →  
  Reader Rebel  $5/month  → 

Not ready to commit? Send us what you can!

 One-time donation  → 

Add a comment