No Wave – a raw never-seen-before look at the underground music scene of 1976-1980 by Thurston Moore of Sonic Youth


No Wave… totally different head… totally…

The best band out of this scene was Swans. For some reason they’ve never been featured on BoingBoing, but if you haven’t heard them, you should definitely make an effort to see a live show while they’re still around. Pretty much the most intense live act ever.

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Post-punk in 1976.

Exactly how much punk was there before 1976? A half-dozen Sex Pistols shows? And then it was already post? Dang, I didn’t even hear about them until 78 or 79 and it was already post. What a loser.

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Not sure what’s in this book but No Wave is DNA, Mars, The Contortions…did I mention the fucking Contortions? I love Swans btw but no wave they ain’t.

Wait… I have that book. It came out like several years ago, yeah? It’s a good one to be sure…

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I think they started out in that scene (played with lots of those bands back in the day, etc) and moved on to what they are doing now, which is blowing out the ear drums of hipsters who refuse to wear ear plugs…

I saw them back in the 90s, on their “last” tour. Michael gira literally said “THIS IS THE LAST SHOW WE’LL PLAY IN NORTH AMERICA… EVER”, yet here they are! Not that I mind, cause the recent albums have been quite good. I haven’t managed to see them on their recent tours, but I’ve heard nothing but good things about their live shows.

The Swans are delightful, sure, but better than DNA? Nothing is better than DNA. Arto Lindsay makes Michael Gira seem handsome and socially adept.

And, yes, this book has been available for years. But any plug for it is worthwhile.


Another book on No Wave by Wire and Pitchfork contributor Marc Masters came out at almost the exact same time:


Yeah, early Swans, circa their self-titled release, Filth, or Cop, is no wave. (Or, simply put, most of the stuff they recorded before Jarboe joined.)

I think since they reformed (sans Jarboe), they’ve become more harsh, sound wise, a bit closer to their original sound.

To me the reformed version feels a bit catchier, melody-wise, than their earliest stuff. (Though it definitely is for the most part harsher than the stuff they put out in the '90s.)

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