Sonic Youth/Shellac @ Hammersmith Apollo, London 31.12.10

For a band who has been around for nigh-on 30 years, you’d be forgiven for thinking that going to a Sonic Youth concert in this day and age could be a stuffy affair. Well Bearded’s got news for you. These ‘old’ bastards can out-rock and out-mong any of today’s young pretenders with their eyes closed.

Dec 31st, 2010 at Hammersmith Apollo / By Suzi Ireland
Sonic Youth It’s always a sure fire bet that any event hosted by All Tomorrow’s Parties is going to be informative and stimulating, and New Year Eve’s ‘Strange Days’ gathering did not disappoint. Factory Floor opened with their noisy electro meanderings getting everyone in the mood. Slightly monotonous but still engaging, ATP reckon this is the band to watch for 2011. Well, we shall see.

Rising from the rubble of late 70’s post punk, The Pop Group regrouped to perform some of their politically aggro tracks. Stand-out anthem ‘We are all Prostitutes’ still rocked but lacked the sneering punk attitude that this band of angry men used so well when they were little’uns.

Although he is vehemently against hero-worshipping, Steve Albini is still a legend amongst any discerning music fan. Not only for his unforgiving touch as an engineer, working with the likes of Nirvana and PJ Harvey, but also as the frontman of Shellac. Always uncompromising, never boring, Shellac pummelled our ears with an unrelenting force. Jagged, fierce riffs and tight-as-fuck grooves left us wondering why they aren’t any bigger. Then we remembered that they don’t want to be - they seem very comfortable in their noisy niche.

As we got closer to midnight, the Apollo revellers were armed with party poppers and drunken smiles. Out ran Thurston Moore looking no more than 25 years of age, bottle of beer in hand, ready to count us down. 2011 begins in a shower of gold glitter to a soundtrack of feedback. Glorious.

After kicking off with the noisy oldie ‘Brother James’, most of the set list was predictably from the most recent album, the superb The Eternal, interspersed with a couple from Daydream Nation to keep the diehards happy. Staggeringly psychedelic and always original, there is no question why Sonic Youth are possibly the most name dropped band in history. They may like to freak-out and meander off into unchartered mong territory, but they have never lost their pop sensibilities. After a double encore peaking with maybe the band’s most famous track ‘Kool Thing’ (sans Chuck D), these living legends sent us off into the night with a ring in our ears and a spring in our step.