BEING THERE: Thurston Moore @ Boot & Saddle

Photo by DAN LONG

The Boot & Saddle is a 125-person capacity South Philly venue with a long Country and Western history that was shuttered years ago and recently revived with punk rock charm. I knew right away this was going to be the smallest and most intimate venue I’d get to see Thurston and company play. Last night, the Thurston Moore Band — My Bloody Valentine bassist Debbie Googe, experimental guitarist James Sedwards and ex-Sonic Youth drummer Steve Shelley — kicked off their set with “Forever Love” and then segued into “Speak to the Wild” for a trifecta of righteous noise-rock that was rewarded with an immense amount of applause and cheers from the clearly stoked crowd. They followed it up with “Germs Burn,” “Detonation,” and “The Best Day,” the title track from the Thurston Moore Band album. All told a bracing reminder of Thurston’s songwriting chops. Many moons ago, Sonic Youth slowly traded in the self-indulgent noise noodling for structure, pop hooks, and serious guitar playing ingenuity. What they also traded in was the ten minute crescendo assaults, but Thurston and Co. revived the expansive six-string explorations and whisper-to-a-scream dynamics of early SY during “Grace Lake” from the new album. During that song the band went all out, balls to the wall, in the middle of this one with James almost losing his shit while driving the headstock of his guitar into the stage floor. After an hour set, the band thanked everyone profusely, and awkwardly dismounted the stage to go through a side “backstage door,” which actually led to a closet (Steve Shelley would later tell me). After a minute back there, they came out for their encore and did “Pretty Bad” off of Thurston’s Psychic Hearts LP. Great songs, great sound, great band, great crowd, great night. — DAN LONG