Ah, the noise! So much guitar feedback journeying to the center of your brain, causing bone disintegration (and at least a little temporary hearing loss) -- how could this be so enjoyable? Sonic Youth are the masters of high-decibel rock, and they could not have picked a more appropriate place to start yet another tour in support of their "Goo" release than the University of Maryland's Ritchie Coliseum. This concrete sports arena is more like a blimp hangar, and the sound waves just kept bouncing back and forth Wednesday night, creating some amazing effects, if you could stand the volume.
The sheets of howling guitars were held up by Steve Shelley's strictly arranged drum patterns, proving that traditional song structures lurked beneath the surface of such noise fests as "Dirty Boots" and "Mary Christ." Have I mentioned how loud it was? It was the solidity of Shelley's surprisingly varied rhythms that allowed guitarists Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore the latitude to go to the extremes they did. They worked with multiple guitar tunings, each changing guitars after every song and playing off each other in ways never imagined in rock before their arrival on the New York scene nine years ago.
The vocals were shouted and mostly inaudible, with Moore and bassist Kim Gordon trading off songs, and Ranaldo occasionally getting a word in. His singing on "Mote," the final encore, was the strongest, and as that song devolved into a sort of feedback afterglow, people were nodding their heads, as if this rite of sonic purification made all the sense in the world.