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Wednesday, October 13, 2010
The Corin Tucker Band, live at the Aladdin
Time mellows us all, whether you want to admit this or not, even quote/unquote "riot grrrls." A lot has changed since Corin Tucker and Sleater Kinney tore through Washington and the world with their "unique brand of post-punk, all female, ovary-powered rock n' roll music." The reviews of Tucker's new album 1,000 Years make note of this (over and over and over again) and are, for the most part, outright dismissive of a woman, now in her late 30s and a married mother of two, still making music. I'm baffled by the one over on Pitchfork, which gives the album a positive review and then inexplicably slaps it with a measly 6.5 out of 10. Entertainment Weekly gave the album a C+, mostly because it's "not a substitute for Sleater Kinney."
[eye roll] There's a reason why Tucker's project is called The Corin Tucker Band and not Sleater Kinney, people.
It was dispiriting to see only 2/3s of the Aladdin Theater filled during the first show of the band's tour, right here in Tucker's home base of Portland. As an audience member posted on Twitter, "what the hell?!! I though everybody in this town loved Corin?!!" Well, maybe five years ago when Sleater Kinney was coasting on the waves of their seminal album The Woods. Another local band, The Golden Bears, opened with their lead singer Julianna Bright all dressed-up in a Pete Townsend-inspired jump suit. Only a few dozen people were up front at that point, glumly nodding their heads along with the music.
Those who did show up at the Aladdin seemed like friends and family of the bands or local rock journalists. There was a lot of hugging going on and Bright caught up with some folks in the crowd before her set. Altogether, it all seemed more like a house party than a show, with most of the crowd north of 30 and in no mood to bounce around, with their minds likely on how much they'd have to pay the babysitter when they got home. We've all had those bittersweet moments with married friends and their kids when we realize that, yup, we're no longer in our 20s and we're supposed to all be adults now. That vibe was definitely in the air at the Aladdin on Thursday night.
Not that this is a bad thing. You wanna stay on this planet past the age of 30, well, everyone around you is gonna grow up and do adult-type things. We can't all pretend it's the late-60s or the late-90s forever (although there's plenty of gray hippies and Gen Xers willing to try, goddammit) but that doesn't mean you have to sit at home every night with your Capri Sun-soaked offspring and a Netflix copy of "How to Train Your Dragon." I was glad that people brought their kids to the show and dressed up like they were still in their 20s. One gal, in her mid-30s, happily spun around the theater in a pair of tall, leather boots. Some might have found the sight of this woman dancing and twirling her hair in the air pathetic but, hell, I found it inspiring.
During The Corin Tucker Band's set, the lead singer stopped the show during the encore to wave to a child sitting up in the balcony's general admission section. I can't remember if it was her own son or another member of the band's. I could hear him up there squealing with glee as Tucker dedicated a song to him.
I think this is the real reason why the response to the tour and 1,000 Years has been so lethargic. It's not that the music is bad or mediocre, it's just different. It's more laid-back and more mature than "Little Babies" and "No Rock n' Roll Fun," just like most everybody in the audience at the Aladdin last week.
Just because you've got a few gray hairs doesn't mean you have to stop making music, going to shows, etc. It just means that you have to do it differently, unless you're still Metallica or Weezer or Green Day or one of their perpetually young fans and you want to keep pretending that you're still 25 and can do tons of coke and play a 100 beats a minute while your aching, aching fingers scream in pain.
For those who doubt all of this, well, have fun staying home with the kids and whatever CGI fest Jack Black is doing voiceover work for these days. Here's a video for the band's first single, "Riley."