Ok, I’ll admit to being a little bit of a doubter regarding Thurston Moore’s new band Chelsea Light Moving. Not that the former Sonic Youth guitarist is old or anything, but is 54 to old for indie garage rock?
I literally walked into the Knights of Columbus’ newly renovated ballroom just as Chelsea Light Moving was starting their set on the first night of the recently completed Savannah Stopover. The first song was “Frank O’Hara Hit” — a restrained and intense song for which Moore wrote a little background at Matador Records:
On July 24, 1966 the NYC poet Frank O’Hara was struck by a dune buggy while hanging out on Fire Island, and died the next day. O’Hara knew poetry in all it’s formalist glory and like John Cage’s ear to music liberated it for writers for an unending time. In his essay Personism: A Manifesto (published in Leroi Jones’ Yugen magazine in 1961) he writes, “I don’t … like rhythm, assonance, all that stuff. You just go on your nerve. If someone’s chasing you down the street with a knife you just run, you don’t turn around and shout, ‘Give it up! I was a track star for Mineola Prep’…As for measure and other technical apparatus, that’s just common sense: if you’re going to buy a pair of pants you want them to be tight enough so everyone will want to go to bed with you. There’s nothing metaphysical about it.”
Well, Moore may not know how to use “it’s” and “its”, but he sure knows something about music, about poetry, and about working a room. As a good friend of O’Hara biographer Brad Gooch, I immediately knew I was right where I needed to be on a Thursday night in Savannah.
I was a little dubious of the youth of the audience — more like Sonic Fetuses — but who am I to say what the hipster kids should be listening to?
Anyway, I was way into it.
For some reason, the K of C stage isn’t nearly as tall as it should be — another foot would really help — but Moore towers over everyone no matter where he is. After he played an encore, he unplugged and walked right off the stage and out the front door. The rest of his tight, excellent band — Keith Wood on guitar, Samara Lubelski on bass and violin, and John Moloney on drums — seemed to know that was coming.
In one of the nicer moments, Moore was given a beer by my friend Tammy, who has a son named Thurston.
Enjoy the pics.