What do you do when you see your favorite band perform live 40 times over 11 years? If you're an aspiring author like Jenn Benningfield, you write a book about it. No Setlist is not just a compilation of Sonic Youth concert reviews covering the time period May 1998 to May 2009. It is more than anything else an unabashed love story--of the creative spirit, of friends, of discoveries, of life. Aided and abetted by 44 pages of tremendous color photos (some personal, most shots from select concerts), these journals immerse you into the experience of countless miles on the bus or plane, exploring the sights, and meeting numerous other Sonic Youth fans at home and abroad. No Setlist is a must-have for not only Sonic Youth fans, but also anyone seeking to understand the unique mindset of that beautiful beast, the "hardcore fan."
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Growing up as the youngest of seven in a family where hard work was prized above all else, Jenn Benningfield learned early in life the value of self-reliance and persistence. What was an otherwise typical childhood was turned on its ear when a fifth grade haiku lesson revealed to the teachers, students and a ten-year-old Benningfield that she had an extraordinary gift for writing, particularly describing everyday occurrences and subjects with fantastic wordplay. This skill for making the normal utterly engrossing to the reader has only grown sharper over time. "No Setlist"--her first book, a nonfiction account of seeing the legendary New York band Sonic Youth live in concert 40 times over 11 years--will win over not only fans of that band, but anyone who enjoys reading about travel or music. Working as a real estate title abstractor in Maryland, Jenn Benningfield is currently working on a novel trilogy that follows several characters over 15 years.Review:
Long-time Sonic Youth fanatic and all around bad-ass, Jenn Benningfield, has documented her obsession with live Sonic Youth concerts, as well as the life that develops around such an obsession, in her book NO SET LIST: Pieces Of A Sonic Life. It is available HERE for the low, low price of $15. -FUPPETS- has absorbed the book, and what a book it is. While the omnipresent Sonic Youth are integral to the book, it is Sonic Youth's peripheral universe that is the real star here. The lines of uber-fans showing up hours early, the crowds of people that frequent the shows, the travel required to attend 40+ shows and the inevitable highs and lows of that travel, the camaraderie between people who are total strangers except for the fact that they love skronk rock, and most of all, the joy of the fleeting moments shared with one's musical idols, these are the main pillars of NO SET LIST. The bits that truly hook the reader though, are the relationships that Jenn builds with her fellow fanatics, whether at shows or through meeting those people she has corresponded with on Sonic Youth's infamous Fan Gossip Forum, including one who would become her partner-in-crime for much of NO SET LIST's duration. Her travels begin close to home but soon take her throughout the Midwest, California, Oregon, and as far as Britain in search of that sonic eargasm that only Sonic Youth can provide. Planes, trains, and automobiles are all endured, travails are overcome, and health issues are faced, all with humor and biting wit, and with the help of Snoopy's all-consuming love. What could easily become rote, (the endless bus/train stations, the countless opening acts, the obsession with Sonic Youth), never does and this is a testament to the quality of the writing within, not to mention the quality of the mind making the observations which we are absorbing. Sonic Youth is not an "easy" band to like. They go out of their way to test and expand their audience's ears. They are a group that seeks to make art, and that seek to push the envelope as to what can constitute great musical art. Jenn captures all of this, as well as the blinding white skronk joy that Sonic Youth give to those that are patient and keep their ears open. NO SET LIST opens this world and exposes it to the light. What we find inside is comforting, exhausting, exhilirating, and downright beautiful. -FUPPETS- wishes Jenn was put on retainer by Sonic Youth so as to document their every appearance! That way, -FUPPETS- would have a mainline to the world's greatest band, and there is nothing better. -FUPPETS- would like to thank Jenn Benningfield for writing NO SET LIST, and for having the balls to put herself and her writing out into the world. --Fuppets
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