Silenced Sonics

Orange police are working with America Online to nab the thieves who stole an estimated $72,500 worth of equipment belonging to New York noise-rock band Sonic Youth. The band was in OC to headline the This Ain't No Picnic fest on July 4 at Irvine Lake. Sometime between 1 and 7:15 that morning, a new Ryder truck—with all of the respected rockers' gear inside it—was driven away from the Ramada Inn on State College Boulevard in Orange. Sonic Youth still made the Picnic gig, using equipment borrowed from other bands on the bill.

The truck was recovered on July 7 in downtown Los Angeles; its lock had been crowbarred off, and its contents were unsurprisingly missing.

"The people who [stole the equipment] are obviously online," Orange Police Department Detective Clark Smith told, though he wouldn't explain why that was so obvious, citing concerns about hindering the investigation.

Gone were idiosyncratic instruments the band has used to define its sound—souped-up guitars, customized amps and assorted other specially tweaked gadgets. Because of their uniqueness, the concern is that Sonic Youth without these specific instruments would be like Dizzy Gillespie without his bent horn, or B.B. King without his beloved Lucille—and that duplicating such intricate customization with replacement gear would be virtually impossible.

"So much of their sound is about the way they modify their instruments," Perry Serpa, Sonic Youth's publicist, said. "They've customized their equipment in such a way that it's pretty well-known what it all looks like."

The list of missing gear includes 24 guitars; a bass; a synthesizer; 11 pieces of amplifier equipment; tour T-shirts; and various guitar pedals, microphones and other accessories, including at least one gong. So far, none of it has turned up. The band is asking anyone with any information to contact Aaron Blitzstein in New York City at (212) 343-2314, or via e-mail at

A complete list of Sonic Youth's MIA gear can be found on the newsgroup


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