Lance Bangs presented the world premiere of his new concert film Daydream Nation, in celebration of the 30th anniversary of the seminal album by Sonic Youth. The film documents the 2007 Glasgow gig where the band performed the album in its entirety at the O2 ABC (R.I.P) with archival footage interspersed.
I was initially sceptical about seeing a gig in the cinema but as soon as Kim Gordon sang the first lines of Teenage Riot I was met with goose bumps and my doubts quickly disappeared. The film has an immersive quality and you’re in awe about tight and present Sonic Youth are when they perform. Often with bands that have been playing since the 1980s you want to cringe and you’re willing them to stop and retire and stop exploiting middle aged folk by charging £50 for a t-shirt to relive their youth. But with this performance the energy and the amount of fun the band have with performing the and playing with the feedback on their guitars is amazing. The film makes you wish Thurston Moore hadn’t cheated on the coolest woman in punk and Sonic Youth could keep performing for thirty more years.
The film blends archival footage from past live performances into the concert footage, which further emphasises the authentic performance style of the band, the intensity they had on stage at the height of their popularity, still palpable in 2007. The band did three encores to finish their set and by the looks of it had to be dragged off stage. To be honest I have little patience for when a band does two encores let alone three, so this part of film did feel like it was dragging a bit.
If anything, the film is a wonderful document of the now destroyed iconic Glasgow venue as well as the evolution of gig audiences. The camera often pans to the crowd where it was interesting to see that 2007 was probably one of the last times you could go to a gig and not see everyone recording it on their phone. Everyone is moshing or standing still totally entranced by the performance. At the Q&A after the film, Sonic Youth’s drummer, Steve Shelly, talked about how much the band looked forward to playing in Glasgow “Along my travels playing Glasgow was always the highlight … The friendly part of the Island!”.
Overall, the film captures the atmosphere of a moment in time of a great performance of a band that will probably never play together again. It’s hypnotic and punk and everything you want from a Sonic Youth documentary.
For more on the Glasgow Film Festival 2019 click here.