Saturday, July 04, 2009

Sonic Youth & The United Palace Theater

Sonic Youth played last night at the United Palace Theater on 175th Street & Broadway, a venue I have never even heard of, no less been to.

Sonic Youth was incredible, they were as tight as you can imagine, not so loud to be painful, and the sound was rich, thick and deep with 3 guitars. I realize as I write this that music reviewing is something I have no idea how to do. I have no words to describe music, it's just either great or bad or medium. This was great.

If Sonic Youth weren't so on spot last night, they would have been overpowered by the venue, the United Palace Theater. If you have never been there, I encourage you to get on the subway (A train to 175th St, 1 block to Broadway) TODAY and visit it. It's an unbelievable building that is lushly ornate, every square inch covered with gold plaster moldings painted with red and green highlights. It's a blast on the eyes and soul.

According to their website, the building was built in 1930 by Thomas Lamb (a year before the George Washington Bridge opened which is right on that same street) as a Loews Theater for vaudeville and movies. It was the 5th and last "Wonder Theater" that Loews opened. The church bought it in 1969, and has lovingly restored it and kept it as beautiful as the day it opened (I imagine). It also has a special type of organs, only one of five existing. For more detail on the history of the building, this site has some good information. This site has a good video with Reverend Ike who is I think the primary tenant.

My photos don't do it justice, the website has a much better selection. I cannot urge you enough to go there as soon as possible to witness this gem of a building. Unfortunately the calendar page on their website is not functioning but they have church services there all the time, and concerts, recitals and other events too.


EV Grieve said...

Thanks for the report, Jill. I was thisclose to going Friday. Never been to the theater either — and have, too, heard good things about it.

Larry Slade said...

When I first came to NYC I would wander around and explore. I was up that way years ago, probably to walk across the GW Bridge which is a fun thing to do because one can the enter the Palisades on the north NJ side and sit on a cliff overlooking the Hudson and Manhattan.
Anyway, on one to those trips I went into the theater.
These were in the days when the famous Rev. Ike had his services there. It must have been a Sunday afternoon or something because it was all just ending. Unfortunately Ike wasn't there that day but I did get to check out the place and yes it is indeed fabulous and a treasure.

Larry Slade said...

Rev. Ike died today.
He bought the theater in 1969 according to this: