Review and photos – Thurston Moore at the Biltmore Cabaret, Vancouver, Oct. 3 2014.
– review by Thalia Stopa/photos by Kirk Chantraine
Touring as The Thurston Moore Band, Thurston Moore played the Biltmore last Friday night in support of his latest album, The Best Day. He was supported by a much-publicized, ridiculously all-star supporting band consisting of bassist Debbie Googe (of My Bloody Valentine), drummer and fellow former Sonic Youth-er Steve Shelley, and guitarist James Sedwards.
Regrettably, I never got to see Sonic Youth perform before the New York noise rock-band and the power couple at its helm, Kim Gordon and Moore, detonated in 2011. If forced to choose sides among the shell-shocked survivors and rock ’n’ roll rubble, I would definitely be in Camp Gordon. She does, besides, epitomize the definition of “cool rock chick” whose skin I’d oft dream of inhabiting. But my political leanings end there – I never got wrapped up in the drama surrounding the couple’s marriage. I only mourned for the fact that I would likely never get to check them off of my list of Bands to See Before I Die.
Boycotting Moore’s tour stop at the Biltmore last weekend never crossed my mind. I was there, after all, to pilfer remnants of the aftermath to construct a sort of Frankenstein Sonic Youth experience. One crucial part was a glimpse of those putty Moore lips – and a glimpse was all I got, albeit in full pouting, pursing duckish form. So crowded was the venue (the show sold out) that most of the night I couldn’t see much more than his body and a speaker where his head should have been. The male-majority crowd was surprisingly tame, although there was hardly room to navigate to the washroom, much less to thrash accordingly.
Moore prepared and set the stage with an oddly formal music stand in full view of the audience, but with little acknowledgment from them. In front of a screen-projection of the cosmos, Moore expanded a handful of songs from his most recent LP – the first since 2011’s Demolished Thoughts – into proportions epic enough to fill the set. From “Forevermore” to “Germs Burn” and title track, Moore and his band filled every empty crevice remaining in the packed room. When every cranny was occupied, the only place left was our very epidermis. I spent the entirety of their 15-minute finale of instrumental cacophony crawling out of my skin. Encore “Ono Soul” from his mid-nineties’ solo effort Psychic Hearts drew the last life-blood from the audience with its “crayon teeth”.
Openers Sebadoh were in a rather rebellious mood; at least that’s what I gathered from the last few songs of their set. “Keep the Boy Alive” from their 2013 EP could very well have been a declaration of solidarity or homage to headliner Thurston Moore’s recent midlife crisis. Lou Barlow seemed a pro nurturer of his own inner snot-nosed child, as he pushed the limitations of his set time allowance, and teased the audience. For the final song, he opened the floor to requests, then announced they would play a hardcore version of “The Yellow Submarine” – before launching into 1991’s “Gimme Indie Rock”.
The Best Day is Moore’s third solo album, and second since Sonic Youth disbanded. He talks about the album with Snipe scribe Ria Nevada here.
More Thurston Moore at the Biltmore Cabaret photos:
You can also see photos of Thurston Moore at the Rickshaw Cabaret in 2011 here.