Bethel Connecticut’s native son returned home on Thursday night to perform in front of fans, friends, and family. In fact, even the cover model of The Best Day was in attendance to watch her son Thurston play one of the best sets I’ve seen since Sonic Youth at The Starlight Ballroom in Philadelphia during their Rather Ripped tour in 2006. Mrs. Moore and fans were also treated to seeing Thurston’s older brother Gene improvise on guitar as part of the Nutmeg State’s finest experimental outfit, Prana-Bindu. If that weren’t enough, Murph (Dinosaur Jr.) and John Moloney (Chelsea Light Moving/Sunburned Hand of the Man) traded off on the drums during the experimental and extemporaneous opening set.
Having seen Thurston with Chelsea Light Moving last year in Hartford at the Arch Street Tavern I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect this time around with an entirely new lineup, and an impressive lineup at that. The new “band” includes fellow Sonic Youth member Steve Shelley on drums along with new collaborators Debbie Googe of My Bloody Valentine fame on bass and James Sedwards of UK avant-rock band Nøught on guitar. It genuinely sounded as if they’d all been playing together for the past decade, each intuitively attune with each other’s playing. This made the call and response between Moore and Sedwards that much more organic while Googe and Shelley drove the beat seamlessly on it’s destined path. I appreciated CLM for each member’s artistry and talent but in the end they served more as Thurston’s backing band than they did as collaborators. I have no doubt The Best Day was also primarily a Thurston driven vehicle but each member plays their given role with ease and enthusiasm on the record and even more so live.
In true Thurston Moore fashion the set began as a slow building tsunami of feedback, noise, reverb, and harmonics only to crash down in the form of “Germs Burn,” the final cut from the mere weeks old album The Best Day. The tone was set early; this was a return to form as much as it was a return to home for Thurston. The set blazed fourth with several more tracks from the new album including my personal favorites “Grace Lake” and “Speak to the Wild,” the latter of which saw Moore and Sedwards trading harmonic phrases with one another like birds in the err…wild. Moore’s first venture into the past was with a wicked version of “Ono Soul” off of the critically acclaimed 1995 album Psychic Hearts. Again, it all just felt so authentic as the lyrics echoed throughout The Ballroom: “Bow down to the queen of noise, crayon eyes draw. Boys blood pour some of Patti’s wine, blood is love inside.” After a few more cuts off of The Best Day Thurston thanked the crowd and stated definitively “that’s it, goodnight”. Of course with relatives in the house it was anything but over. Two encores and three songs later, including the fan favorite “Pretty Bad” also from Psychic Hearts, the quartet graciously thanked the hometown crowd while waving adieu.