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If Sonic Youth (pictured) has taught us anything musical over the past 20 years, it’s that there are limits to guitar terrorism—even when you add improbable tunings and hand tools to the equation. And on the band’s latest, NYC Ghosts & Flowers, you can’t help but notice a pattern evolving: When the clamor subsides, you’re left with Thurston Moore equating tenderness with melody or Kim Gordon panting like she’s cuffed to the bed. In the decade since completing the great ’80s EVOL-Sister-Daydream Nation trifecta, it’s notable that the band has only occasionally resorted to phoning in the din. And the explosive noise treats that it has self-released between its last few major-label joints have enabled the quartet to pull off one of the more amusing tricks in rock: In maintaining its titles as both cultural role model and the New Yorkest band in the biz, Sonic Youth has proved once and for all that moving to the major-label ‘burbs needn’t diminish one’s indie cred. Tonight, retro futurists Stereolab will add Moog grooves to a bill that promises to be more jam-happy than many in attendance would want to admit—but if Sonic Youth is alt-rock’s answer to the Grateful Dead, then Stereolab is angling to become the P-Funk of cocktail pop. Despite the show’s relatively hefty ticket price, I wouldn’t miss a beat of either. Sonic Youth and Stereolab perform with Johnny Dowd at 8:15 p.m. Tuesday, June 20, at the 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $22.50. (202) 393-0930. (Brett Anderson)