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Week in Rock: Boys & Girls Edition

<p><strong>God Bless Americana</strong></p><p>Nothing says the 4th of July like some good 'ol Americana-charged folk rock. Last Saturday Jenny Lewis and Conor Oberst took the stage at Battery Park to entertain the masses. The two played their own sets, as well as together, each garnerning much praise. For instance, <a href="http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2009/07/jenny_lewis_con.html">one anonymous commenter</a> thought Oberst was "much better than i thought he would be." You can't buy press like that! </p><p>Elsewhere: Did you know Jenny Lewis was once on the Golden Girls playing a <strike>Girl Scout</strike> Sunshine Cadet. <a href="http://www.brooklynvegan.com/archives/2009/07/jenny_lewis_is.html">It's true</a>! And for your Conor fix, <a href="http://stereogum.com/archives/video/conor-oberst-brings-spoiled-to-letterman_078142.html">here's a recent performance</a> he did on Letterman.</p>


<strong><p>Moment of Youth</p></strong><p>Sometimes the dynamite is all loaded in the mine shaft, but the fuse just doesn't light. Such was the case at last Friday's <a href="http://www.sonicyouth.com">Sonic Youth</a> gig at the massive United Palace Theater, way up in the Yukon Territory of Washington Heights. You can't really call it an off night for the band—the sound was fine from our orchestra seats, the material well-rehearsed—but for some reason they didn't achieve liftoff until the encore, when frontman <a href="http://gothamist.com/2009/06/24/thurston_moore_musician.php">Thurston Moore</a> urged the audience to leave the holding pen of their assigned seats and fill in the yawning, stultifying gap between the front row and the stage. The next half hour felt like Sonic Youth as Mother Nature intended; exhilarating, dense, weird, and sometimes recklessly propulsive. Smiling out at the crowd suddenly pressing against the stage, guitarist Lee Ranaldo twice remarked, "Ah, this is much better!" </p><p>But given the vast distances many of us had to travel—uphill, on the subway, both ways!—the juicy encore wasn't quite enough to compensate for the rather perfunctory first hour. The band is rightfully enjoying the cuts off their solid new album "The Eternal," and much of the material, like "Anti-Orgasm" and "Calming the Snake," really packs a wallop. (Live, some of it still feels a bit too tidy.) Maybe the show's undermining factor came from the old songs chosen to counterbalance the new material: weren't they maybe a tad <em>too</em> old to whip the 3,000-plus house into much of a frenzy? Or maybe it was just the orchestra section that was subdued. Unleashing a better-known classic like "Silver Rocket" might have done the trick, but Moore didn't bother consulting <em>us</em> on the set list (<a href="http://www.billboard.com/bbcom/news/sonic-youth-july-3-2009-new-york-united-1003992495.story">here</a>). <em>— John Del Signore</em></p>