Liberated from her instrument, Kim Gordon prowled the TLA stage as never before, ripping through the rhythmic, vocal-forward songs of her 2019 solo debut, No Home Record, and bopping through a groov(e)y cover of DNA’s “Blonde Red Head.”
Fronting a band both more traditional, in some ways, and less bound by its own sound than Sonic Youth, Gordon deftly blurred the lines between poet (“Sketch Artist”), rock goddess (“Murdered Out”) and experimentalist (“Don’t Play It”), expanding the scope of her decades-long career in a manner befitting a true heir to Patti Smith. While she was, at all times, the focal point, bassist Camilla Charlesworth, guitarist Sarah Register and drummer Madi Vogt all contributed powerfully.
When Gordon did finally strap on a guitar, halfway through “Cookie Butter,” the room exploded with glee, and when she relinquished it with equal ease during the encore—letting it surf through the Philadelphia crowd for all comers to strum, pluck and clang as she wordlessly conducted her colleagues—the collective circuit of freedom, responsibility and free noise felt complete.
Gordon’s erstwhile Body/Head partner, Philly-based Bill Nace, opened the show with an engrossing shred-and-drone piece on electric taishōgoto.
—M.J. Fine; photos by Chris Sikich