8. Sonic Youth – Smart Bar Chicago 1985
Bad Moon Rising is my favorite Sonic Youth record, and this is an astounding document of the transitional era after it’s release. Recorded just a few months after Steve Shelley replaced Bob Bert on drums, they’re playing both earlier material and testing new songs that would appear the next year on EVOL. I’ve had the show as a bootleg for years, but the improvement in sound quality alone makes this a must have record. I’m sure some of my love for this era is pining for something I never experienced; by the time I was exposed to Sonic Youth, they’d moved out of their noise terrorist roots into a more “mainstream” rock sound (Sister was the first I heard, though that was not until after the release of Daydream Nation). They could still absolutely destroy live — I have fond, fond memories of their 1992 Brown’s Island show with the Boredoms, where they challenged the thunder and wind for sonic supremacy — but they were no longer changing the landscape like they had just a few years before. This is tectonic plate shifting music of the highest order.