Thurston and Lee in an Alley

The day after seeing Sonic Youth open for Wilco (Jim O'Rourke-palooza) in Cleveland, I got to meet Thurston Moore and Lee Ranaldo in an alley.

We had just finished eating dinner at Bento A Go Go in Columbus and a buddy of mine (now in The Sun) claimed to have seen Sonic Youth inside, ordering bento boxes. This was highly likely since Sonic Youth was playing that night, next door in the Newport (the US's longest running rock club).

We left Bento by driving down the alley behind the Newport when we saw them. It was Thurston and Lee just standing there, signing autographs. My sister, who also attended the show on the previous night, and I were too afraid to approach our heroes, but my crazy friend Nicki was not.

Nicki made us pull over and she leaped out of the car to meet these two guys she had never heard of. After we watched Nicki talk to T & L for a few minutes, she ran over and told us that they wanted to meet us.

Except for my wedding, I've never felt so nervous in my life. All that I could muster was "You guys were good last night". This was my chance to ask about stories of playing for the first time with Steve Shelley behind the drum kit in Columbus or letting underage fans into clubs on Lee's id. I wanted to talk about how they rebuilt their instruments from scratch in order to make their unique sound only to have these same instruments stolen while on tour. I had tons of things I wanted to know but no gumption to speak up.

Nicki, on the other hand, had no problem. She asked what the "pace" button on Lee's shirt meant. She asked how tall Thurston was and about his daughter. Coco. She explained that she had never heard their music before but was way more into folk. She went on and on, and T & L thought she was fascinating.

Now, I know what you're thinking: The only reason Nicki was so comfortable with T & L was because she didn't know who they were. Well, that ain't the case. I witnessed Nicki go right up to Joan Baez at a peace rally and hug her. She's had heart-to-heart conversations with Ani DiFranco and Tori Amos. Nothing phases her.

After Nicki and 2/5 (O'Rourke was with them) of Sonic Youth chatted it up in the alley, the guys signed my sister's Sonic Youth tote bag and we sulked away. I doubt I'll get a chance to talk to them again, but at least I had a chance.

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