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TV’s Most Surreal Music Performances – Sonic Youth on ‘Gilmore Girls’

Considering the initial backlash that greeted Sonic Youth principals Thurston Moore and Kim Gordon when they announced plans to appear on the WB teen drama ‘Gilmore Girls’ with their daughter Coco Hayley Gordon Moore back in 2006, you’d think they’d become Al-Qaeda terrorists or something.

Many of the notoriously fickle SY followers on the band’s online gossip board laid into the couple, trashing what turned out to be a rather innocuous performance as evidence of them “selling out,” a rather outdated concept even back in the mid-’00s. At the center of the controversy was the show itself, which was both critically acclaimed and bitterly panned as some sort of cultural touchstone.

“I usually have a high tolerance for s—ty TV, but this show is the boiling point for me, with all its contrived ‘hip’ references, ‘witty’ speedy dialog and pseudo-sophisticated bourgeois vibe that makes my stomach turn,” wrote one particularly annoyed Youth fan.

A predictable response, sure — but certainly not a fair one. SY aficionados could argue the various merits and faults of ‘Gilmore Girls’ all they wanted — and the show certainly had large numbers of both fanatics and haters doing just that — but neither side seemed to consider the most likely scenario behind the appearance: Coco, 11 years old at the time, was a huge fan of the show, and Moore and Gordon, being awesome (and well-connected) parents, decided to do what they could to get their daughter a cameo.

Whatever the behind-the-scenes story, there’s still no denying that watching Moore, Gordon and Coco rock out in the town square of the fictional ‘Gilmore Girls’ town of Stars Hollow was (and still is) an odd experience. The trio turned in a stripped-down version of the tune ‘What a Waste’ from their then-forthcoming album ‘Rather Ripped,’ with Mom singing (and jumping up and down with a level of energy that belied her years), Dad strumming one of his trusty Fender Jazzmasters and daughter holding down the low end.

Coco was originally expected to play the shakers, but perhaps her musical talents had improved enough for her to take on more complex duties, despite still being four years removed from playing bass in the Northampton, Mass.-based teen punk band Big Nils.

Also worth mentioning: The ‘Gilmore Girls’ appearance also continued a girlish trend of sorts for Gordon, who started a clothing company with designer Daisy Von Furth in the ’90s called X-Girl. Gordon and the rest of SY then made a full band cameo (sans Coco, by the way) on the CW teen drama ‘Gossip Girl’ in 2009, and she followed it up with a brief acting stint on this season’s opening episode of HBO’s ‘Girls.’

Considering the near-universal adulation that seems to follow Lena Dunham’s ‘Girls’ everywhere these days — not to mention the not-negligible amount of sympathy and support Gordon has received following her heartbreaking split from Moore in 2011 after nearly three decades of marriage — it’s not surprising that her recent HBO cameo was heavily lauded. And that watching the ‘Gilmore Girls’ clip through that lens of separation has made it more difficult to process for some.

Next Surreal TV Performance: M.I.A.

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