Reviews > Shows
Thurston Moore at the Henry Miller Library
Henry Miller Library
Big Sur, Calif.
About a year ago, an unassuming couple driving north on California’s Highway 1, decided to stop at the Henry Miller Library on the Big Sur coast. The tiny venue, dedicated to the subversive writer and the years he spent living in Big Sur, has become an enclave for the world’s biggest musicians to play (Red Hot Chili Peppers, Arcade Fire, Fleet Foxes) intimate shows under the towering redwoods. So, it makes sense that the modest spot showed up on Thurston Moore’s radar. He and his wife, fellow musical collaborator Kim Gordon, walked into the small one-room bookstore/library and chatted with library director, Magnus Toren, who had no clue who they were at the time. Luckily, library assistant, Mike, was a diehard Sonic Youth and Moore fan and described the moment as “mind-blowing.”
It’s not hard to believe that that day led to Moore’s return, a year later, to perform a solo show with his three-piece backing band with openers White Magic and Cass McCombs.
Up-and-comer, McCombs—who’s been steadily garnering props from media outlets like Rolling Stone and Pitchfork —played an hour-long set of Destroyer-inspired tunes with a killer backing band schooled in roots-Americana.
Then, Moore and his band—featuring rhythm guitar, harp and violin—took the stage. Just the sight of the gangly, six-foot plus, shaggy-haired genius is enough to demand the audience’s attention. The noise-punk icon breathed heavily into the microphone as he explained that an experimental black & white film—with half-nude women running around—made by a student at Smith College, was going to play on a large screen behind the band. It was a perfect accompaniment to the artistry of Moore’s music and poetry.
In between songs from his recently released, Beck-produced masterpiece, Demolished Thoughts, the baritone-voiced eccentric gifted the audience with original spoken word imagery that was part Charles Bukowski, part William S. Burroughs and part absurdity in the best way: “Beer and 40-second hardcore tunes,” “heavy metal is fantasy” and “bruises blessed in a graveyard of sand and delight.”
If anyone can rouse the spirit of Henry Miller with prose, it’s Thurston Moore.
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