Indie-rock pioneers Sonic Youth released a live album recorded in 1989 in kyiv to support relief efforts in Ukraine, following Russia’s brutal invasion of the country.
To set the context for the concert – which was recorded exactly 33 years ago – at the time, Sonic Youth were one of the first bands of their ilk to play behind what was then still known as the curtain. of iron; the Berlin wall will fall a few months later. But at the time, US President Ronald Reagan still called the then USSR “the evil empire,” and although bands like Billy Joel and Metallica made cautious inroads into concert halls across the L ‘Is, few or no American bands at the level of Sonic Youth had.
As Stereogum noted, that all changed when the band embarked on an Eastern European tour behind their galvanizing 1988 album “Daydream Nation” – including a date in the Ukrainian capital of kyiv. Remember that Western rock music had been effectively banned in the Soviet bloc for decades, with albums smuggled into the country and sold on the black market. It’s safe to say that many in the audience that night had never heard anything aggressive and anarchic rock from Sonic Youth.
Future Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz was present at that show and later told the Guardian, “Sonic Youth came to Ukraine and brought progressive thinking, chords I couldn’t understand; volume that I could not bear. Three hundred children came out with all their cultural education in the grinders.
Since the start of the pandemic, the members of Sonic Youth — who split in 2011 following the separation and divorce of co-founders Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon — have emptied the group’s archives and released an abundance of docs. archives, mostly on Bandcamp, and occasionally as benefit releases, such as the two released late last year in support of abortion rights in Texas.
Sonic Youth were a wild and unruly live act and this crudely recorded show is no exception, as the band tear up much of ‘Daydream Nation’, dropping topical banter on stage (including a list of Ukrainian restaurants to New York), excerpts from The Carpenters Records (an obsession of the band at the time) and their feedback-soaked racket.
Proceeds from the sale of the kyiv recording – buy it here on Bandcamp – go to World Central Kitchen and Ukrainian relief: “This revamp of the April 14th set honors the spirit of this nation and the proceeds will benefit at World Central Kitchen,” the band’s website reads, “and timestamp of a time when new ears were first transported.”