Sonic Youth, Texas, 1986: Live at the Continental Club

Michael Azerrad

By Michael Azerrad

on 04.22.11 in Reviews

In 1986, Sonic Youth was one of the most exhilarating live bands you could see. Their show was an electric firestorm, with all the lunging, flailing and hammering of a massacre in a Hollywood mansion, an intoxicating, ecstatic violence imbued with the same splattering creative force of the neo-expressionist art then ruling the band's native downtown Manhattan.

An exhilarating live band at the peak of their powers

Originally a fan-club-only release, this recording documents the dawn of Sonic Youth's intense three-year peak — an April 12, 1986, show at the Continental Club in Austin, TX, when the band debuted songs from their epochal SST debut, EVOL. By now SY were both subverting and following rock and pop conventions, veering into a more song-like direction while making almost raga-like music full of cataclysmic dissonance and out-and-out noise. It's remarkably well recorded for mid-'80s indie-rock and while classics like "Starpower" and a cyclonic "Expressway to Yr Skull" are more visceral than the recorded versions, it's early material like "Kill Yr. Idols" and "World Looks Red" that really explodes with the fearsome chaos that marked the band's exhilarating wild years.