Is there any band as old as Sonic Youth (nearly three decades!) still radiating such adventurousness and vitality? (The E-Street band, perhaps, but that's apples/oranges.) On Tuesday night the ever-fresh noise rock quintet unleashed yet another spellbinding show at The Music Hall of Williamsburg—an exhilarating return to form after seeing them swallowed up by the United Palace Theater in July. As if to emphasize their commitment to developing new material, the 90-minute performance skewed toward their most recent album, The Eternal, with highlights including a blistering "Calming the Snake," and an orgasmic "Anti-Orgasm." The night climaxed with a show-closing rendition of timeless classic "Silver Rocket," and though the improvisational segment never quite blasted into outer space, the song burned up completely, inspiring atavistic stage-diving which hilariously culminated in one husky, bespectacled man struggling to get on stage just as the show ended—and diving into the audience anyway.
At one point, frontwoman Kim Gordon noted that the band had performed in Boston the night before, and being in Brooklyn was "kind of more fun," to which Thurston Moore dryly added, "Boston vs. New York is like skinhead vs. punk: no one wins." Moore also introduced "Shadow of a Doubt" as a song written "back when Manhattan was real New York," then adding, as an afterthought, "that means nothing." Over on stage right, the impossibly talented Lee Ranaldo continued to mesmerize throughout the night, and bassist Mark Ibold proved himself fully integrated into the mix—just as his old band Pavement prepares for their big payday reunion. Steve Shelley's bombs were concussive as ever, and the overall effect was like watching witches stir up a potent occult brew; the old spells still enthrall, and the new ones work, too.