Monday 23 March 2015

On Stage: Sleater-Kinney

As part of the Riot grrrl movement in the nineties, Sleater-Kinney were quite successful and had a devoted group of followers when they went on an indefinite hiatus in 2005. In 2014 the three got back together again and released a new album No Cities To Love. In support of that album they are now touring Europe and are also visiting my town. I am not really familiar with their music, but since this gig is another Indiestad concert I decided to go check them out.

Sleater-Kinney at Paradiso Amsterdam, March 19 2015

By the time the all ladies band disbanded, the Riot grrrl movement had already died down. But during their hiatus the musical landscape has changed a lot as well. Still it seems like the right timing for the band to reform, although indie rock is more popular than ever, more and more indie bands are rebelling against the way it commercialised. Sleater-Kinney have the right combination of punk attitude and politics to appeal to many new fans, including new female fans who can relate to their feminist stand-points. This is obvious tonight where aging fourty year olds and youngsters are watching side by side, with many femal fans in front of the stage.

The threesome, expanded to a foursome live on stage, play a tight set, showing they can still be meaningful even today. Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein are taking turns on vocals the first half of the set which works really well. Tucker's high shrill voice defines their sound, but also doesn't appeal to everyone and can be a bit too much when listening to her singing a few songs in a row, like in the second half of the set. Of course this is a matter of taste and most of the people here tonight are enjoying it a lot. Brownstein impresses with her guitar skills and is playing great riffs and solos. Together with Tucker they are compensating the absence of a bass player in a clever way. Drummer Janet Weiss is keeping it all together with straightforward but spot on grooves. Additional touring member Katie Harkin adds an extra layer of guitar and keys. She's somewhat in the background, but gives the music more depth.

It is clear the band is enjoying their comeback, since they are exchanging smiles throughout the show. In 'Gimme Love' Tucker is putting aside her guitar and like an experienced crooner she's playing the crowd before she drops to the ground like a real drama queen. Their setlist is built around the new album, but they don't forget about their legacy and play 'Jumper' as the last song before they return with an encore. Music-wise Sleater-Kinney prove this is certainly a succesful comeback. Hopefully people can also still relate to their feminist message.

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