Sleater Kinney | 04.24.2015

sleater kinney_75Sleater-Kinney took the stage and never let up rocking the crowd like it was the 90s all over again—but better.

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The Pageant, St. Louis, MO.

Sleater-Kinney’s reunion record is titled No Cities Left to Love—that title is a boldfaced lie. Sleater-Kinney showed our city an abundance of love.  They shared it to a packed floor of fans spanning at least 3 generations.  For many in attendance, this was not just a concert, but a rite of passage for their heirs.

In a vaguely familiar twist, a little sleight of hand was at work, and THEESATISFACTION opened with a stylistic shift I’m not sure many in attendance were expecting.  The duo of Stas & Cats, themselves natives of Washington state and label mates of Sleater-Kinney, may remind some of Floetry.  Their combination of jazz infected hip-hop and R & B, throwback matching attire, and old school energy and stage presence was a pleasant curve ball. The duo addressed the audience and rallied them to make a stand against racial, gender, and sexual-orientation discrimination. By the end of their set the respectful, pleasant-minded audience was appreciative. THEESATIFACTION were on point, consummate pros, delivering a fluid performance that was a flashback to the golden age of hip-hop with a modern level of musical refinement and lyrical topicality. As they danced their way off stage, you could sense the energy of the audience shift slightly, from pleasant to expectant. A much heralded return was moments away.

Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss, with the addition of Katie Larkin of Skylarkin, took the stage and never let up rocking the crowd like it was the 90s all over again—but better. Sleater-Kinney is, without a doubt, in their prime as a band. They played the room perfectly loud. The absence of a bass player went unnoticed as the amount of low end in the mix could have fooled me into thinking there was one. In addition to that, Weiss’s use of her toms, and their mic placement and mixing allowed for a range of low-end frequencies that fill out the sound nicely. That’s particularly important when you have a band playing an hour and a half of up-tempo grooves.

The thing is, Sleater-Kinney have written great songs over the duration of their career and shifted styles over that same span, yet they never strayed far from their unique blend of punk and garage rock. You could call then Post Punk or No Wave, but all these labels ultimately fail to do them justice. In my head, I have always seen Sleater-Kinney as the purveyors of prototypical Indie Rock in the best possible way.  Their songs are undeniably rock songs, but all together their own brand.

sleater kinney_350Tucker’s soaring and roaring vocals are distinctive and memorable, and haven’t been diminished in the least bit after their absence. She sung out ceaselessly to the point of making what sounded so impassioned and driven seem effortless and natural.  It’s a surreal juxtaposition to experience because the emotion she delivers is convicting. To say she sung like a woman possessed wouldn’t be far off the mark.  Brownstein was a great counter point, assured and confident, and equally passionate, though more controlled and mannered in her delivery.  The rhythm and playfulness that comes across as she dances while playing guitar was also present in her singing, giving her a swagger that was a bit of a throwback to days of the early rock and roll heart throbs—given this is Chuck Berry’s stomping grounds, it seemed appropriate to no end. Weiss was without a doubt the driving force throughout the show. She laid down the groove and nailed carpet tacks into it, making sure it didn’t budge. Weiss was crisp and precise, shouldering the responsibility of time keeper and primary provider of low frequency. It may seem like a small thing, but having to incorporate flourishes and complicated syncopation so there’s ample toms and kick drum action in the mix to compensate for the lack of a bass player is no small feat. It’s what elevates keeping time to artistry, and that’s exactly what the audience experienced as they rocked, swayed, nodded, and bounced through the night.

Though this was the No Cities Left to Love tour by name, Sleater-Kinny also released Start Together, a career spanning box set featuring re-mastered versions of their entire catalog, back in October.  That being the case, the set list featured an abundance of material that touched on most of their releases, while playing all but the final four tracks of No Cities to Love. What I once considered the quintessential and definitive Indie Rock band showed no signs of having lost a step in any way, shape, or form. The new songs were just as powerful as the fan favorites. They seemed to suspend time, with so much material and so much energy. It felt like a party, but not the kind of party anyone has had since the late 70’s at CBGB’s. It was inspiring, but then again, I’m talking about Sleater-Kinney—inspiration is their stock and trade. | Willie Edward Smith

Set List:

Price Tag – No Cities to Love

Fangless – No Cities to Love

Start Together – No Cities to Love

What’s Mine Is Yours – The Woods

Ironclad – All Hands On the Bad One

No Anthems – No Cities to Love

Oh! – One Beat

Bury Our Friends – No Cities to Love

One Beat – One Beat

I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone – Call The Doctor

Light-Rail Coyote – One Beat

A New Wave – No Cities to Love

No Cities to Love – No Cities to Love

Get Up – The Hot Rock

Surface Envy – No Cities to Love

All Hands on the Bad One – All Hands on the Bad One

Words and Guitar – Dig Me Out

Entertain – The Woods

Jumpers – The Woods

 

Encore

 

Gimme Love – No Cities to Love

Dig Me Out – Dig Me Out

One More Hour – Dig Me Out

The Fox – The Woods

Modern Girl – The Woods

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