Sonic Youth Smart Bar: Chicago 1985 by Daniel Dorough To alleviate the misery inflicted upon Sonic Youth fans after their surprising split in November of 2011 (following the even more surprising split of bassist Kim Gordon and lead guitarist Thurston Moore after 27 years of marriage), the noise rock godheads have recently released a stunning live album entitled Smart Bar: Chicago 1985. Fresh off the release of their second official album Bad Moon Rising, Smart Bar is a document of the band at their height of their mid-‘80s avant-noise era. Taken from a live show in Chicago with new drummer Steve Shelley, the album demonstrates Sonic Youth’s prowess as an intensely fierce live act. As the 1980’s produced a vast array of hardcore punk acts whose stockin-trade was a violent stage presence, the avant-garde Sonic Youth were able to rock just as hard live as Black Flag or Minor Threat. While their esoteric aesthetic could have been perceived as too intellectual for a crowd who was probably more acclimated to the visceral assault of the SST bands, SY proved early in its career that downtown Manhattan bohemians could possess as much power and energy as the heaviest of the hardcore bands. The choice of Chicago is relevant
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