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Sonic Youth Breathe New Life into ‘Daydream Nation’

There are three albums necessary to any indie rock fan’s arsenal: The Bends by Radiohead, Doolittle by the Pixies, and Sonic Youth’s Daydream Nation. And last night (July 19), a lucky sold-out crowd gathered at the Berkeley Community Theatre to see noise rock stalwarts Sonic Youth perform this classic album — which, when released as a double LP in 1988, culled more superlatives than the band knew what to do with — in its entirety, thanks to a tour celebrating the album’s recent reissue for Geffen.

From the anthemic drive of “Teen Age Riot” and the throbbing bombast of “Eric’s Trip” to drummer Steve Shelley’s punchy staccato beats on “Kissability” and the final frenzied notes of “Eliminator Jr,” Sonic Youth ripped Daydream Nation apart; the kinetic furor between husband-and-wife duo Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon is still a perfect match nearly 25 years later. The band’s signature distorted feedback (“Hyperstation”) was shifted just so, creating a new dimension to old favorites by extending instrumental interludes, and flowing seamlessly between verses. Gordon also traded playing for dancing, proving that even after all these years, nobody can rock a striped mini dress and chin-length bangs like she can. And while Sonic Youth fall under the veteran category nowadays, the band shared in the feverish energy of the audience’s younger members more than with their aged college rock-bred parents. Now if only Thom Yorke and Frank Black would take this success as tour inspiration.

We asked: Where were you in 1988 when Daydream Nation was originally released?