Sonic Youth in the USSR - how it was: unique footage and memories of the participants

The USSR was considered one of the most closed countries in the world. But still some Western bands managed to perform for the Soviet citizens. Among them were Sonic Youth. Let's find out what came out of it.

Sonic Youth's performance in the USSR: history of the band, impressions of the concert, interesting facts

Sonic Youth was formed in New York City in 1981. Its members were Kim Gordon, Lee Ranaldo and Thurston Moore and, after several drummer changes, Steve Shelley. They were an important part of the experimental rock scenes America until the early 2000s. The band stood out for its unusual using guitars, tuning them in different tones. They used drumsticks and screwdrivers to change the timbre of the instruments. Sonic Youth had a big influence on the alternative and indie rock movements.

The band started with experimental noise rock, but gradually found their individual style. Their album "Daydream Nation. (1988) is considered the best work of all time. After signing a contract with the major label DGC in 1990, the band experienced commercial success in the 1990s and 2000s. But in 2011. fell apart after Gordon and Moore's divorce. The members stated that the group had ended its career and had no plans to reunite.

Sonic Youth Group
Sonic Youth Group

Over the course of their career, they have released 16 studio albums, several EPs and singles, as well as a number of experimental albums on his own label SYR. One of them was a collaboration with the musician Jim O'Rourkewho became a full member of Sonic Youth from 1999 to 2005. The band also gave concerts all over the world and participated in various music festivals and projects. It has always provided support to young and independent musicians and artists.

Western idols find their way to the country of the Soviets

Sonic Youth concert in the USSR in April 1989 as part of their tour in support of the "Daydream Nation" album. The band performed in Vilnius, Leningrad, Moscow and Kiev, becoming one of the first of Western bands that visited these cities before the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the USSR. Sonic Youth struck by local audience with its experimental and noisy sound and had a great influence on young Soviet musicians, such as Evgeny Hutz of Gogol Bordello, who said that Sonic Youth's concert in Kiev changed his life.

Concert in Moscow was held April 12 at the Gorbunov Cultural Center. The band performed 12 songs from their repertoire, including "Brother James", "The Wonder", "Hyperstation", "Eric's Trip", "Candle", "Kissability", "Silver Rocket" and "The Sprawl". Their performance was videotaped and partially posted on the Internet.

Concert in Kiev was held two days later at the Zheleznyak Culture Center. The band played only 9 songs from their repertoire: the musicians didn't have time to perform a full program, because their performance was interrupted due to technical problems. This was the last Sonic Youth concert in the USSR, as the band was forced to cancel the remaining dates of the tour. What exactly caused it remains a mystery to everyone. Maybe because of poor organization or payback. Some believe it was due to political reasons.

Recollections of participants

The members of Sonic Youth shared their memories of their concert in the USSR in various interviews and articles. Here is what, for example, they said Thurston Moore:

"It was very. interesting time, because it was the time of perestroika and glasnost. We were one of the first Western rock bands to come to the USSR. We played in the old Soviet halls that were built for classical music or for communist meetings. The sound was terrible, but the atmosphere was incredible. People were very excited to see us and hear our music, which was new and fresh to them. We felt like we were doing something important and historical."

Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon in their youth
Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon in their youth

She also shared her memories Kim Gordon:

"We were on our way to train from Leningrad to Moscow, and it was like traveling through time. We saw old villages, people in traditional clothes, horses and carts. We felt like we were in friend the world. When we arrived in Moscow, we stayed at the Cosmos Hotel, which was very modern and futuristic. We were given rooms with a view of the spaceport where the rockets were launched. It was such a contrast".

Sonic Youth in Soviet Kiev
Sonic Youth in Soviet Kiev

And here's what he said Lee Ranaldo:

"We played in Kiev in front of a big crowd of young people who were very interested in our music and culture. They asked us a lot of questions about New York, about punk rock, about politics. They wanted to know more about our world. They also shared with their stories and problems. They told us how difficult it was for them to live in the USSR, about censorship, about repression, about the lack of freedom. They told us that they wanted to change and democracy.

Interesting facts

For dessert we decided to leave you some interesting facts about Sonic Youth concert in USSR. For example, did you know that the musicians played Soviet guitars "Ural."that were given to them by local musicians?

The band used them for several songs, such as "Silver Rocket" and "The Sprawl. Moreover, Sonic Youth gave Interview for Soviet television, in which they talked about their music, about New York, and about their impressions of the USSR. They also showed their guitars and explained how they tuned them in different tones and primed them with various objects.

The band recently released a partial recording of a concert in Kiev on their Sonic Youth Archive label for collection of funds to help Ukraine. They gave all the proceeds to the charity World Central Kitchen.


Please enter your comment!
please enter your name here

85 - 84 =

'Goodbye Motherland': why these iconic American musicians disowned their native country

American stars who left the U.S. Known as the author of The Alchemist, writer Paulo Coelho once said one not unreasonable thing: "If you have the courage to...

The band "Jeopardy" has a healing effect.

How Bardak heals the public The band Bardak, playing real rock with pronounced hard rock and blues tones, continues to gain momentum. The album "Russkiy...

What fans didn't already know about Thomas Anders

Apartment in Moscow, love for dolls and more - little-known facts about Thomas Anders The name of this man knows everyone who lived in the 80's, and...

"Dreamer" - a hit of the Soviet stage, written in a barn

Interesting facts about the creation of the song "Fantazer" (1989) by Yaroslav Yevdokimov "Fantazer" is a Soviet hit of the late 80s, which made the performer Yaroslav Yevdokimov widely famous. This hit can be heard on...

"Rendezvous Night" (1988): a tangled story with the authorship of a hit

Who sang the song "Night Rendezvous" before Kris Kelmi "Night Rendezvous" is one of the most popular songs of the 90s. Listeners often argued about the authorship of this hit:...

A scene from "The Godfather," which was the basis for one of Kate Bush's best songs

The fascinating story of the song "Between a Man and a Woman" (Kate Bush) "Between a Man and a Woman" is a well-known song by British performer and multi-instrumentalist Kate...

"White Record" (1989) - "Polite Refusal" - All about the album

The Story of the "White Record" by the band Polite Refusal "Polite Refusal," also known as "The White Record," is the third album by the band Polite Refusal, released during the sunset of the 1980s....

Pink Floyd in Moscow (1989) - The band's first performance in Russia

First Pink Floyd show in Moscow (1989) The first Pink Floyd concert in USSR was held on June 3rd, 1989. It was a significant event not only for...

Pump Up The Jam (1989) - Technotronic - All about the song

The song "Pump Up The Jam" (1989) by Technotronic The song "Pump Up the Jam" is the first track on Technotronic's album of the same name, Pump Up the Jam:...

The best songs of Phil Collins (Best of Phil Collins). Top 15

Top 15 Best Phil Collins Songs Phil Collins is an amazing singer and songwriter, drummer, and actor and producer! Popularity came to him in the band...

Legendary songs with no less legendary history...

A selection of well-known songs with an interesting history! Everyone knows these songs - despite their solid age, they are well known even to modern music lovers! And if.

The main clips of the 80s! Part 2

10 vivid music videos from the 80s. Part 2 We continue our selection of the most vivid, memorable and simply favorite music videos, which will forever remain a colorful embodiment of the bygone...
Featured Articles

"Sausages and lollipops - anything goes": the weirdest things fans have thrown on stage

Strange things fans have thrown on stage during concerts Many people would love to be a rock or pop star, because the life of an artist is always sweet. Do you have ...

How Queen's last performance with Freddie turned into their biggest loss ever

Freddie Mercury and Queen's last concert together on the Magic Tour The fact that the Queen singer was seriously ill became known quite late, when Freddie had already...

What the "intimacy" button on a Soviet turntable meant

Soviet turntable "Melodiya-103-Stereo" as a time machine or how to travel to the past with the help of music Let's imagine that we got to the store of antique things, as...

The most legendarily awful concerts in rock history

The most failed concerts in the history of rock Concerts are very important for both the performers and the audience. In the case of the former, thanks to the live...

Soviet "Fantazer": how Yaroslav Yevdokimov's fate came to be

All about singer Yaroslav Yevdokimov: early years, career and success Few Soviet singers, composers and actors can boast of a happy childhood and a quick and easy road...

Why not: foreign songs in Soviet cartoons - Top 6

Top 6 foreign compositions in Soviet cartoons From old Soviet cartoons and movies most often remembered not only the main characters and situations in which they fall,...

1991, "Monsters of Rock": Texas Pantera in Moscow - how was it?

We tell you about Pantera's performance in Moscow and what it led to In the summer of 1991, while working on their next album after the successful Cowboys From...

Soviet blues - history of development and main representatives of the genre

History of Soviet blues: emergence, development and representatives In the history of music, it is difficult to define a clear framework for the emergence of a particular genre; as a rule, one follows from the other...

The nightmare tour that caused Blondie to break up.

The breakup and last tour of Blondie For years, Blondie seemed like an indestructible punk rock ship. Debbie Harry's team was a hit factory that, for a few...