Waterloo Records’ SXSW Day Party kicked off on Wednesday with a set by Thurston Moore’s latest project, Chelsea Light Moving.
“Unlike a lot of bands at SXSW, excluding Mr. Timberlake and Prince, we are not unsigned,” Moore said in welcoming the crowd. “But we’re glad to be here in the trenches this week.”
To be sure, Moore and Co. bring a decidedly different style to the table than Justin “Suit and Tie” Timberlake and the Paisley One.
Besides Moore, Chelsea Light Moving features bassist Samara Lubelski, guitarist Keith Woods and drummer John Moloney. They have described themselves as “Burroughs rock,” which is a nod to the first track the band recorded in spring of 2012 – the aptly-titled “Burroughs” – and was inspired by author William Burroughs.
Like the novelist, essayist, painter and performer, Chelsea Light Moving is a diverse band.
The unmistakable Sonic Youth sound remains albeit with a slightly harder and more distorted edge, crunchy guitar work by Moore and Woods, and SY’s trademark countercultural references and emotional confessionals.
“Frank O’Hara Hit” was chock full of fuzz, with a scorching Moore solo and lyrics that chronicle events around Moore’s birthday (July 25), including Bob Dylan going electric and getting “booed offstage” At the 1965 Newport Folk Festival, only made it more mesmerizing.
Moore simplified his guitar work for the punky anarchist cut “Lip,” which crackled with piss and vinegar thanks to the “Too fucking bad!” refrain.
He dedicated “Empires of Time” — which speaks of being “the third eye of rock’n’roll” — to punk icon Roky Erickson and the 13 Floor Elevators. The five-minute opus started with a rather melodic intro but soon progressed into scratchy and trippy Thurston-ish riffs as he attacked the fretboard of his Fender Jazzmaster.
Chelsea Light Moving closed out the 40-minute set with “No Go,” a cut that Moore noted was recorded completely analog.
Despite the underlying anger of these protest songs and promises to “blow up” birthday parties and bat mitzvahs, Moore appeared relaxed and at ease post-set. Asked backstage if he’s yet to recover his beloved Fender Jazzmaster that was stolen from his hotel last December, he replied, “No, I’m sure it’s sitting under someone’s bed somewhere. I just had to let that one go.”
The Fender Airstream is front and center at Waterloo Records all week. For the chance to win VIP Passes to the parties, visit fender.com/vipme.