When: Tue., Jan. 12, 9 p.m. 2016
TUESDAY, JAN. 12
NIGHTLIGHT, CHAPEL HILL—In a 2013 interview with Body/Head, the guitarist Bill Nace's duo with former Sonic Youth linchpin Kim Gordon, The Quietus' Petra Davis asked the two musicians what career ambitions remained for each. They'd done so much, she said, what could be left on the docket?
At first glance, the question computes more easily for Gordon than Nace. In Sonic Youth, she shook up the indie-major label equilibrium by jumping to Geffen and, much later, back to the indies with Matador. Her band helped define indie rock for many people and introduce more to the wilder sides of experimental rock music. She became a (sometimes reluctant) fashion and feminist icon and wrote a book about the process that soon became a New York Times Best Seller.
Nace's profile, however, has stayed considerably lower and closer to the same fringes to which Sonic Youth long served as a signpost; in fact, his excellent collaborations with Gordon, through which they headlined festivals and toured the world, represented by far his most popular foray. But Nace has long been an incredibly compelling and patient guitarist, capable of turning his amplifier, his strings and a set of pedals into sheets of versatile, evolving sound. At his best, he seems to linger in the gap between pure noise and pure drone, dissonant notes hovering in the air until they expire or bleed into the next passage. And that quality has indeed afforded him an incredibly active collaborative career, so that he's worked with a who's who of some of the world's best improvisers. He's played musical ping-pong with Paul Flaherty and ground through sound with cellist Okkyung Lee and drummer Chris Corsano. In fact, during the last decade, he's seemed tireless, hopscotching between partnerships and guises at a rate that suggests he lives to hear his sound in new contexts.
That approach helps explain his answer to that question back in 2013. What's next? "To remain. I'd just like to keep playing as long as I possibly can." With Suicide Magnets, Jake Meginsky and Northgate Syndicate. 9:30 p.m., $9–$11, 405 1/2 W. Rosemary St., Chapel Hill, 919-960-6101, www.nightlightclub.com. —Grayson Haver Currin