Reviewed by Michael Chamy, Fri., Oct. 18, 2002
Terrastock 5The Axis, Boston, Mass., October 11-13
It was still early in the scheme of things during Austin reps ST 37's Friday afternoon Terrastock set. What a way to kick things off, though. "Discorporate" was the perfect gathering hymn, a spiritually infused number about setting aside differences and coming together for a greater good. And to Boston they did come, from as far away as Australia in the case of Pip Proud, the underground fractured folk legend who recently suffered a debilitating stroke. His condition prevented him from performing, but ST's version of Proud's "Sweet Thought," a tense dialogue between man and God, was truly touching. That's what three days of Terrastock 5 was all about -- the music and its powerful effects. The festival was remarkable for its lack of posturing, lack of hip self-consciousness, and for the patience and care attendees put into listening to 30-odd diverse acts. The same audience that watched hometown heroes Major Stars tear the roof off with their mammoth loggerhead solos eagerly rushed into the adjoining room to watch Windy & Carl's all-encompassing drone explore the outer reaches of time and space. Friday's crowd was possibly the most receptive that Austin's Charalambides have ever played to. Rows of listeners sat attentively in the dark, merch-filled second room, allowing Tom and Christina Carter and Heather Murray's unsettling organic ambience wash over them, slowly and surely. No less inspirational was the mere sight of historic Fenway Park, directly across the street from the Axis. Sunday's monster bill allowed for such moments as Sonic Youth's Kim Gordon, Thurston Moore, and Lee Ranaldo yakking it up with fans directly in the shadow of the left field Green Monster. Following Kinski and Bardo Pond, Japan's rambunctious Acid Mothers Temple capped things off by hurling splintered guitar chunks into the crowd, Pedro Martinez-style. It was the final exclamation point on an exhausting, majestic, and often overcrowded Terrastock 5 that somehow stacked up to even more than the sum of its weighty parts.