NOISE: Sonic on Sonic – Vice Cooler’s best 24th B-day ever and Sonic Youth Kim and Thurston’s drop-by

Pub date July 17, 2006

Whoa, did Vice Cooler of XBXRX, KIT, and Hawnay Troof have an awesome birthday or what at 21 Grand in Oakland July 15? The topper came around midnight: Mirror/Dash, Sonic Youth twosome Kim Gordon and Thurston Moore’s seldom-performed experimental side project.


Moore and Gordon arrived after finishing up their opening set for Pearl Jam at the Bill Graham Civic, sans entourage; set up and plugged in their own gear; and then played a short set of textural fragments with Kim Gordon on drums and then guitar. It was rad to see Gordon and Moore performing together outside of an SY context – a first for me. I dug the piece that featured Gordon playing a propulsive rhythm guitar.


I also like the way hundreds of people suddenly materialized when the SYers appeared (despite the sketchy sign at the door stating “Sonic Youth are NOT playing” – oh yeah, OK, technically, no). I guess folks got busy texting their pals when Vice, performing as Hawnay Troof, announced that Mirror/Dash was coming up soon.

After a few songs, Moore and Gordon warmly wished a happy birthday to Cooler, grinning from ear to ear up front after helping with setup. Is it too much to see them as Cooler’s spiritual parental units? Troof-ully, they seem to adore Vice. To drive the point home further, Moore jumped into the audience and tackled the birthday boy. Someone was in a hugging mood…


And on a complete side note, can we all agree that Gordon is probably the hottest (and coolest) 50-something lady in rock, resembling a downtown Charlotte Rampling? Madonna and her aerodynamic thighs have nothin’ on her. She also pulled a nice kid-like, twirly dance off at the previous night’s Fillmore performance.


Get Hustle didn’t make the bash, and Friends Forever canceled due to the girl drummer’s back injury. I missed Sharon Cheslow’s improv set with Magik Marker’s Elisa Ambrogio, as well as Always. But I did catch the spunky Dinky Bits. Cute costumes, guys.


Harry Merry was a maniac, playing a fairly long set of his looney, loveable bizarro tunes. This number was about a bus driver who refused to obey.


The Vice, in his Hawnay Troof guise, got on stage, rocked the mic, and worked the crowd up to a lather.


Cooler continued sweating his heart out, as Thurston Moore peered over the top of heads from the sidelines. A cornucopia of local bands also represented in the audience, including sundry peeps from Comets on Fire, Erase Errata, Xiu Xiu, So So Many White White Tigers, Curtains, and Death Sentence! Panda.


At the end of Hawnay Troof’s set, three lovely ladies jumped on stage and led a “Happy Birthday” singalong. Awww, shucks.

Oh, well, my camera sighed and died before Quintron and Miss Pussycat got into the music, but let it be said, they were busy busting out some manic jams when I made my way out of the sweaty, steamy 21 Grand. Outside, venue honcho and bartender Sarah told me she ran out of booze and beer and that the worst drink she resorted to serving was a gin and coke in someone’s used beer bottle. Yum. Better luck with the beverages next year – but just try to top this party.