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Thursday, August 24, 2006
A Sleater-Kinney show review two weeks too late
Before departing for Yellowstone and points south, I caught one of the band's last shows at the Crystal Ballroom on August 11th. No, it wasn't the one where Eddie Vedder showed up and compared Corin Tucker and co to The Who and Hendrix. It was the show before that on Friday night- the next to last, last show.
What surprised me the most was that everyone in a attendance didn't treat the whole thing like a funeral. Out of context, it would have seemed like an average gig. "Welcome to our party," Tucker announced at one point. Not going away party, mind you, just straight-up "party." We all danced our scrawny hipster butts off and shouted out the lyrics, waving fists and bouncing on that floating, minibrew dance floor. All the tears must have flowed on Saturday night while I was a thousand miles away.
As the rock critics might say, it was a "blistering set." Only one slow song and few stops between songs. Nothing but the classics with a heavy emphasis on tracks from The Woods. Carrie Brownstein, in full Pete Townshend mode, rolled in and out of sweat-soaked guitar solos but, I'm sad to note, kept the windmills to a minimum. She seemed to be throwing everything she had into the set but, to be honest, Tucker seemed to be going through the motions, perhaps eager to get home before she'd have to pay her babysitter overtime. At one point I even caught her rolling her eyes but she got through two hours and kicked more ass than maybe we all should have expected, given the circumstances. When the band slowed down for "Modern Girl" a few tears came to even my jaded eyes.
I haven't read anything confirming the reasons behind Sleater Kinney's break-up but a recent issue of Rolling Stone suggested it was fueled by Tucker, who's eager to spend more time being a mother. Drummer Janet Weiss already has Quasi as a successful side-project. I've heard Brownstein is involved in a band called The Spells. If not, here's hoping she gets back into music ASAP. If her playing on Friday night is any indication, she's a certifiable rock god, er, rock goddess.
And as we all know that's what made Sleater Kinney so gosh darn special. They weren't a novelty act, a real-life Josey and the Pussycats or another Bengals. While their roots were in grrrl rock they weren't all politics and posing like Bikini Kill/Le Tigre. They were a rock band worthy of their male competitors and it's a shame they called it quits and never hit it truly big, in the Billboard sense. It's been said before and it'll be said it again, it's a shame that more people will listen to Paris Hilton's album than SK's entire catalog.
But who will still be drawing praise a decade from now? Who stands a better chance of having an old concert poster make it onto the wall of a dorm room in the year 2036? The answer is obvious.
Sleater Kinney, RIP, for the time being at least. If you're anything like your male colleagues though, we should expect a reunion tour in a few years, no?