I want to see Thurston Moore with Wobbly in Tasmania. But Sonic Youth was a horrible band in hindsight.
I’m not a hater. This is a story of evolution. I had the privilege of working at KCSB-FM radio in the 90s. One summer, a deliriously experimental shitshow known as Wobbly Brothers took over the station between two and six in the morning, several nights a week. The original Wobblers included Jon Leidecker, Chris Ball, Dave LaDelfa and Jason Brown. Wobbly was a de-evolution of the more structured “Off The Air” radio show, probably best described as absurdist comedy. Later, Leidecker joined Negativland, most famous for simultaneously enraging the band U2 and Kasey Kasem (and their attorneys) for their epic work: The Letter U, and the Numeral Two.
KCSB resolutely supported eclectic programming beyond college rock. Show submissions had to differentiate beyond what the station already played. You could tune in and listen to Cal Tjader, Chopin, or Chuck D. Non-music shows ran the gamut from the seriously anarchist to the Third World News Review to an incubation of Sean Hannity’s first “shock jock” radio show (yes, that Hannity).
Around the same time, Sonic Youth signed to Geffen, originally formed by Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon. I confess that I am not as familar with their early work. They were originally an NYC noise-rock band. But to my ear, their embrace of noise did not cross into the truly confrontational (eg, Fugazi), and their musicality did not have the durability of other art-rock icons (eg, Brian Eno). Each album release appeared to successively capture a wider range of the college rock audience. I liked their double-album “Daydream Nation” the most. Yet, to this day I cannot find any additional meaning in it beyond that first listen in the 90s. Their first release for Geffen (“Goo”) was very polished and popular. Geffen’s marketing machine kicked into gear, sending free posters and other corporate schwag. In time, Sonic Youth was no longer KCSB material; they were mainstream. Ok, they weren’t horrible — they evolved into something average. Worse, my radio show was average for playing it. And, in time, I left the station.
I stayed in touch with the other DJs, however, and was pleasantly shocked to read that Wobbly was collaborating with Thurston Moore, and playing a show in Tasmania. I would have no idea what to expect. In 2021, to even play in Tasmania, I think, involves a two week lockdown, a special visa, and perhaps a letter from an international trade delegation. Whatever commercial excesses Sonic Youth engaged in, and whatever FCC and “intellectual property” violations Wobbly enaged in, all is forgiven now. Yes, burn the jet fuel for this experimental bullshit. We need it.