photograph by Romina Derra
Rather than the natural disaster predicted by the downpour of Internet postings about Sonic Youth
's Ryder van full of equipment being stolen just prior to the group's two-night farewell to Liberty Lunch, everybody's favorite DIY institution did just what many locals had hoped they might do with all their modified gear missing: They rocked. Instead of the heady guitar alchemy the quartet whipped up for South by Southwest 98, Kim Gordon
& Co. put on two no-frills, no-gadgets shows that will have locals in nirvana for some time to come. "We decided to come to Texas for our summer vacation," said Thurston Moore
on Thursday to a roaring sold-out throng. Pulling out classic chestnuts like "Schizophrenia," "Shadow of a Doubt," "Tom Violence," and "Death Valley 69," the band's two-night stand was a bittersweet affair in that the high-quality shows served as a reminder that the Lunch won't be around much longer to host such events. "In 10 years, this area and all the buildings down here will be deserted -- an urban ghetto," said one longtime Lunch employee in reference to the city's plan to build up Austin's downtown. "I keep telling 'em to put high ceilings in these new buildings so that when they're gone, clubs can move back in." The club's Mark Pratz
provided the Chronicle
with a napkin sketch of plans for the club's new incarnation on Red River, revealing that Liberty Lunch Mach 2 should end up with about twice the capacity of the current location. That's actually a bit misleading, as the city puts the Lunch's capacity at just over 500 and the club holds in excess of 1,200, but the overall idea is that the new venue will be a good deal bigger, what with two stories and large outdoor decks that open up into Stubb's Amphitheatre. There's still lots going on behind the scenes where the Lunch is concerned (see "Council Watch"), which also seems to be the case with Sonic Youth's equipment saga; reports are that Orange County police have recovered the band's van but none of the equipment. According to an Internet news source, investigators are pursuing an online-related lead in the case -- saying the thieves were "obviously online" -- but won't say why they think that, and are still waiting for America Online to provide them with more information. Maybe they should question some locals, as it seems that Austin benefitted quite nicely from the equipment theft.
Ken Lieck will return next week.