Home Read Albums Of The Week: Sonic Youth | Live In Kyiv, Ukraine 1989

Albums Of The Week: Sonic Youth | Live In Kyiv, Ukraine 1989

SY's latest archival release captures a life-changing show — and benefits charity.

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THE EDITED PRESS RELEASE: “Riding on the wave of the critical success of Daydream Nation, Sonic Youth‘s first foray into the former USSR came in April of 1989 with shows in Vilnius, Leningrad, Moscow and Kyiv, the first opportunity for Lithuanians, Russians, and Ukrainians respectively to get a real-time gander at the fabled NYC underground in the flesh (with Bon Jovi lagging four months behind to rep NJ for the hordes).

Anarchic, locked, and loaded with fresh jams from Daydream and vintage chestnut Brother James, SY blister here into a rabid pack of ready-for-action Ukrainians only blessed previously with the likes of Nick Cave and Neubauten drifting into their territory. Though the post-Iron Curtain sojourn was cut short prematurely (like this recording!) after this gig, the Sonics left an indelible impression of the true sounds of freedom. This release timestamps a moment where new ears got transported for a first time, with attendees that included future Gogol Bordello frontman Eugene Hutz.

“That SY Kyiv show was life changing for all musicians that were there,” says Hutz. “We were already attuned to Nick Cave, Einsturzende Neubauten, Sex Pistols and Discharge, but these were the new vitamins we needed. I made a decision to experience NY right there. Plus my friends VV were opening so i got in free 🤟🏼. The fact that it wasn’t shut down halfway through like all other punk gigs was the doing of a Ukrainian man named Mikhailo Gorbachev, who set up the atmosphere of political ‘springtime’ and a promise of change.”

Adds Sergey Popovich (aka Siggy Pop): “In general, few people said how much the Sonics, with their arrival, promoted the entire soviets, and not just Kyiv. After all, in fact, perhaps, with that tour they hammered the final nail in the coffin of the Soviets, and it was as if they let us in Kyiv breathe a mixture that was finally suitable for life.”

This revisiting of the April 14 set honours Ukraine’s spirit, with proceeds going to World Central Kitchen. Founded in 2010 by Chef José Andrés, World Central Kitchen is first to the frontlines, providing meals in response to humanitarian, climate, and community crises while working to build resilient food systems with locally led solutions. WCK has served more than 70 million fresh meals to people impacted by natural disasters and other crises around the world. WCK’s Resilience Programs strengthen food and nutrition security by training chefs and school cooks; advancing clean cooking practices; and awarding grants to farms, fisheries, and small food businesses while also providing educational and networking opportunities.