THE THURSTON MOORE GROUP + MARISA ANDERSON @ THE TERAGRAM BALLROOM
Photos by Eduardo Luis Words by Ron Garmon
L.A. traffic on Saturday night being nicely predictable, I arrived a mere half-hour late to the venue. Just in time to be hailed at the door by the seeming-ubiquitous Insect Dave Arnson of the Insect Surfers (long L.A.’s last great instrumental surf band) before walking into a benign hallucination already in progress, as Marisa Anderson held forth from the stage. Named an “Artist You Need to Know” by Rolling Stone, this Portland guitar guru sat alone under a spotlight in the middle of a no-doubt lengthy yarn involving selling one’s soul to the Devil and other career mistakes. She then offloaded spooky high plains drifter lament that nailed my Toms to the floor. The room was under half full of the similarly rapt as this gorgeous coruscation went off, ending with the promise of her last song, an announcement but preamble to another heavily annotated prologue – this time concerning Barcelona and grumpy Brits – before sending the crowd into that whole stock-still thing again. Again, it was breathtaking. This curious cycle looked to have been going on for a while and no one wanted her to leave, but leave she did as the lights went up.
I went out to the sidewalk with the smokers just in time to watch an last-minute crowd influx and just long enough to get blazingly high. Back inside, the wait was short for ex-Sonic Youth Thurston Moore and support (including Sonic Youth’s Steve Schelley, Debbie Googe of MBV and London-based musician James Sedwards), who crept catlike onto the darkened stage without saying a word, keeping us in a state of awkward suspense scarcely broken by a few half-yelped witticisms from the crowd. Finally, the music began and it was truly everything an oldtime SY fan (who looked to be most of the mostly male audience) could want – an impressively spaced series of rolling explosions that leaned heavily on guitar haze and the assembled half-multitude’s much-evident tolerance for the onslaught. In heaven, I retired to the rafters upstairs to wait out the barrage.
On the road promoting his Rock ‘n’ Roll Consciousness album, Moore was the very model of post-rock post-stardom – rumpled, anti-charismatic and given to odd asides about “overcoming the bullshit that is now,” like everyone present didn’t know which Cheezit-headed usurper to whom he was referring. These sentiments, like irregular bits of conversational candy thrown from the stage, were soon obliterated by a return to those wobbling rattletrap gusts of pure sound like being on the inside of a rocket-powered dumpster on its way to Mars.
All too early, it ended and no good-nights were said. In about the time it’d take you to tie your shoes, they were back for the encore. Another fast blast and off they were again. A second time they ventured out and there was great rejoicing. After one more once-more-over-the-cosmos, Thurston mumbled “Peace and love,” and, in a due gesture of seriousness, the house lights went up.