Yesterday, Sonic Youth played Uruguay for the first time in their three-decade career. The legendary New Yorkers headlined the second night of Primavera 0, a new music festival that’s brought many international acts to the country for the very first time. Just last week Beady Eye made a great Uruguayan debut, setting the opening night of the festival ablaze along with Uruguayan rockers Astroboy.
And yesterday, it was Sonic Youth’s turn to play to a Uruguayan audience for the first time. The crowd was decidedly different this time around, with much older folks in attendance. The show itself started too early (7 PM on a weekday) so I wasn’t surprised that the venue was half-empty when it all began. The Teatro de Verano became slowly crowded as the two openers played their sets.
Argentinean band “Banda de Turistas” played tightly and with determination, while Uruguayan alt rockers “La Hermana Menor” ran through a set that had the audience captivated for most of its duration. They lost it towards the end, with most people where I was criticizing the slow songs they used to close their performance. And it didn’t help that some idiot in the audience kept shouting insults at them whenever the music stopped.
Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo, Steve Shelley and Mark Ibold came onstage at 10:00 PM. Sonic Youth played a set that included highlights from all over its career, but (as it was only suitable) the emphasis was put on the band’s older compositions. They included songs from the closest they came to a commercial peak such as “Teen Age Riot” (from the Daydream Nation album, their major label debut from 1988) and newest cuts like “Sacred Trickster” and “What We Know”. Both kind of compositions were received rapturously, and the band did all their trademark tricks. Although they used no water bottles, screwdrivers found their way in and out of their guitars, and strident passages were used to interconnect different songs.
After a set that lasted a little more than one hour, they came back onstage twice. The first encore was “Death Valley 69”, after which some people started to leave, thinking the concert was definitely over. Personally, I was sure that couldn’t be the case. We were all clapping and chanting wildly, and it was Sonic Youth’s first time in Uruguay. So, I wasn’t surprised when the band hit the stage yet again. They played the Evol-age song “Tom Violence”, after which they took their final bows.
When I was making my way out of the venue, I ran into lots of friends and some well-known Uruguayan artists that had all attended the show. Leaving aside a (sort of) disappointment that the band had omitted certain songs (hey, give them a break – we’re talking about a career spanning three decades here), we all agreed on the same. It’s not often that we get to see artists of this caliber playing our country. Although Sonic Youth has never been in my list of favorite bands, the chance to catch them live just a few blocks away from home was nothing short of magical.
I’ve read recent reports that Sonic Youth might as well disband once they end the current tour (Kim and Thurston’s separation has kindled all sort of rumors). I hope that’s not the case. But if that’s true, and Sonic Youth’s first visit to the country turns to be indeed their last, then here’s to them. They gave us a truly genuine and enthusiastic performance, and they gave all the people who can never afford to go to Argentina a sample of what a first-class concert is. And maybe (just maybe) they’re paving the way for other artists of their stature to come over and play our country.
The Festival Primavera 0 ended today, with Faith No More headlining. Santullo was the opener. A new Primavera 0 Festival for 2013 is already being discussed and talked about everywhere.