A bit by way of explanation. Months, oh, months ago we saw that Sonic Youth was to play here. Having been in a bit of a dry spell musically, our fault, not Berlin’s, we immediately snapped up tickets. What other 25-year-old band is still so unremittingly creative, still rocks so hard, after all? They never disappoint.
Then, a few weeks ago, we saw posters begin to appear around town for The Books, a laptop-ish band, but unlike any other, two geeky guys that play cello and guitar and sample old videos and create shining little pieces of song. We’ve seen them once before, and they were enthralling, a jewel-like revelation in how electronics and organic instruments can be used together.
Naturally, the two shows were on the same day. We searched all over Germany for another Books show to go to, that wouldn’t break our bank. Darmstadt (naturally, since that’s where electronic music’s roots are), Munich, etc. All too expensive. We gave up.
So last night we get to Sonic Youth early. 8:20 or so. Figured we’d wait a bit to see J. Mascis, the opener, someone I haven’t seen since college’s Dinosaur days. It’s sold out, and the average height of the German concertgoer is maybe six foot six. Which makes it difficult for us hobbits. Then about 8:30, Sonic Youth comes on.
The show is brilliant, raucous and rocking as always. And ends a little after 10. Unbelieving, we saunter across town to the Books, and catch their mellow, multimedia set in a quiet, half-filled theater. The precise other end of the musical spectrum, but a perfect second course. To mix metaphors atrociously. And then stroll home in the balmy December winter, still wondering which time warp we’re falling into, or whether we’ll ever get this German punctuality thing down.