Neil Young's Annual Bridge School Benefit is a Bay Area tradition. Known for its diverse line-up and all around goodwill for Neil and Pegi Young's charitable efforts, it's also an opportunity for big name friends and handpicked special guests of theirs to stretch out, relax and deliver an informal, short acoustic set, without all the bells and whistles. Now as any fan of Sonic Youth's gloriously feedback-soaked sound will tell you, stripped-down isn't normally their gig. However, on this night, for the first time ever, they were willing to try it on. The results were mixed.
Thurston Moore, Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo and Steve Shelley had been on the avant punk scene for 10 years by the time they attempted their first acoustic set. Having just finished a tour opening for Young, the band was riding high on the breakthrough success of their album Goo. And yet, the Youth's experimental, heavy and conceptual music is still way left of center and can be an acquired taste; delivering it live and acoustic to a crowd unfamiliar with their charms was going to be a tall order. And then came the equipment failure. Though Moore voices "Dirty Boots" quite nicely and Ranaldo does his bit to his intense "Mote," no other songs from this set are able to get off the ground. Struggling with tuning issues and further problems with the onstage mix, the frustration forces the f-word from Gordon--twice--who flings her instrument aside in disgust.
Here we present those two songs that the band was able to make it through without incident. Though not at all indicative of the thrilling electric powers of live Sonic Youth, it is an historical document chronicling an experimental band once again pushing their amazing talent in a new direction.