BEING THERE: Thurston Moore @ RUBA Club


Photo by DAN LONG

The warriors: Thurston Moore, James Sedwards, Deb Googe. Their weapons: identical Fender Electric XII 12-string guitars and a Squier Bass VI, respectively. But, there’s one more player: Steve Shelley sits at his throne behind the drum set, rhythmically guiding the total of thirty vibrating strings into a droning battle of angelic overtones. The battleground: RUBA Club on Green Street, right behind Silk City Diner, last night.

The entire set was one continuous jam entitled “Alice Moki Jayne,” a piece Thurstone wrote, which was inspired by the works of Alice Coltrane, Moki Cherry, and Jayne Cortez. Conductor Thurston nods and flashes hand signals to the group when he decides on the next chord, next strum, next stomp onto each player’s fuzz box. The piece seemed to flow in movements, with lows and highs, drawn-out crescendos, soaring climaxes, and feedback interludes. The ambient segments were nothing short of intoxicating, and the piece as a whole was a beautiful, cinematic, post-rock epic imbued with nostalgia-inducing, Thurston-core riffs.

There was one particular segment during which Moore, Sedwards, and Googe were picking a melody in unison – each part containing slightly different notes – and each player jammed a metal rod under the strings, essentially raising the pitch of the melodies while creating a very unique, Eastern-sounding tone by taking advantage of the instrument’s scale of harmonics. This technique of adding what is known as a “3rd bridge” to a guitar was popularized by the late Glenn Branca, a great friend and musical inspiration to Thurston, back in the days of the No Wave movement.

The band had exited the stage, leaving behind some six-string guitars and a Hofner bass that hadn’t gotten played, so I stuck around knowing there would be an encore. The band played a couple Thurston Moore tunes with Sedwards and Moore on Jazzmasters and Googe on the Hofner Violin Bass, with Shelley back at his kit, a fun sendoff before their final thanks to the audience, to each other, to the supporting acts, and to everyone who helped put together this intimate evening show upstairs at RUBA. — KYLE WEINSTEIN