Last night I had the opportunity to see Sonic Youth at the Berkeley Community Theatre — always a favorite venue — playing their historic recording Daydream Nation in its entirety. Despite the obscene heat, a good time was had by all. Highlights:

  • That lovely, chiming cascade of notes that kicks off “Teenage Riot.” This is one of those great album openings that the album itself can’t quite live up to. Truth to tell, I’ve always thought Daydream Nation was overrated. It’s uneven, overlong, and at times willfully obnoxious; but for the duration of this guitar intro, you’re charmed into believing that this time, everything will be perfect.
  • The chugging riff of “Total Trash.” They could have jettisoned three or four of the lesser songs and just played this again instead, and I would have been happy.
  • Thurston Moore’s hair. Although he must be at least in his mid-40s by now, Thurston still has top-quality rock’n’roll hair, which he whirls about joyfully while torturing his guitar.
  • Seeing Pavement bassist Mark Ibold toddle onstage for the encores. Apparenly he’s found gainful employment filling in for Kim Gordon while she sings and dances, and good for him.
  • The encore of “Do You Believe in Rapture,” an exquisite song from SY’s latest album, Rather Ripped (named, I just learned — and I can’t believe I didn’t know this already — for the much-loved, long-defunct Berkeley record store).

It had been awhile since I went to this kind of rock concert, where everybody mostly stands and looks, with the occasional headbanging thrown in. Having been away from it for awhile, it struck me as odd; there was this quality of “Let’s all stare at these strange animals who make music.” As if Sonic Youth were howler monkeys or something. It made me kind of understand the opening act, an enigmatic group who played an endless, ethereal drone while seated in a circle, paying no attention whatsoever to the audience. This is worthy of further thought; but my available time for today is at an end.