Kim Gordon
Photo by Natalia Mantini; Courtesy of 9:30 Club

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Kim Gordon at 9:30 Club

“For me, performing has a lot to do with being fearless,” Kim Gordon famously stated in her New York Times bestselling memoir, Girl in a Band. “The only really good performance is the one where you make yourself vulnerable, while pushing beyond your familiar comfort zone.” The fearless and fierce postpunk visionary has done it all during her outstanding career. As co-founder and bassist of postpunk art noise band Sonic Youth, Gordon helped usher in New York no wave in the early ’80s, before the incredibly influential band hit the mainstream in the ’90s by headlining Lollapalooza and appearing on MTV’s 120 Minutes. As a performer, she is a spiritual mother to both the riot grrrl movement and, with her contralto voice—by turns disaffected, growling, bratty, or sexy—fuzzed-out guitars, and heavy drums of Sonic Youth’s earlier works, a forerunner to grunge’s signature sound. She even produced Hole’s angsty debut, Pretty on the Inside. Gordon studied art at the Otis College of Art and Design in Los Angeles in the late ’70s, and exhibits of her works have been shown around the world. Unlike many celebrity forays into fashion, the NYC streetwear line X-girl, which Gordon started in 1994 with Daisy von Furth, is still going. And she has appeared in numerous indie films, as well as popular television shows like Gossip Girl and Portlandia. She formed the duo Body/Head with experimental guitarist Bill Nace shortly after the dissolution of Sonic Youth. The two Body/Head studio albums, 2013’s Coming Apart and 2018’s The Switch, are studies in stasis, fuzzy fermatas, and pregnant pauses, a deep dissonance that reaches into the abyss before ascending into the atmosphere. It’s surprising that Gordon didn’t make a solo record until 2019’s No Home Record. The album features the known soundscapes of Gordon’s 38 years making music—staccato beats, distorted guitars, and spoken-word poetry—but there are also flourishes of unexpectedly rich production, making this a joyful, grimy, weird, delightful album to listen to again and again. High art and lo-fi, Gordon isn’t so much an icon as an iconoclast, breaking the mold, challenging conventions, collaborating with fellow rebels and rule-breakers, and forging new paths across all genres and modes of art. She plays 9:30 Club on March 15, with Nace opening. Doors open at 7 p.m. on March 15 at 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW. $30. Proof of vax required.