Sleater-Kinney reunites in L.A.

Concert Review

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Published: May 14,2015 | Posted: May 19, 2015 | Written by: Dominique Redfearn

Yes, I’m one of those fans that only knows about one of the most influential bands of the Riot Grrrl era because I heard that my favorite actress from a certain sketch comedy show was also in the band.

Give me a break, I was in elementary school the last time they released an album.

I started following guitarist and vocalist Carrie Brownstein on Instagram last year after binge-watching the IFC comedy “Portlandia” on Netflix and noticed a post in which she displayed seven colorful records and I was intrigued.

A few YouTube and Google searches I was immediately immersed in the powerful aura that was punk rock trio Sleater-Kinney.

Often thought of as pioneers in the feminist Riot Grrrl movement, the band released its first album back in 1994, as well as another six albums until the band went on an indefinite hiatus in 2005.

The trio consists of drummer Janet Weiss with Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein, each on vocals and guitar.

The band kept busy on their hiatus with other projects, Weiss and Brownstein reunited for their short lived band Wild Flag while Tucker recorded an album, “The Corin Tucker Band.”

Brownstein also co-created and stars in the hit sketch comedy show “Portlandia” with former “Saturday Night Live” cast member Fred Armisen.

Last year, Sleater-Kinney released a special edition box set of their past albums which included the lead single, “Bury Our Friends,” from their new album “No Cities to Love.”

The single and the album came as a surprise to fans and hinted at the chance of a possible reunion.

Since the release of their album they have done numerous record signings and a tour that has stretched from the United States to Europe.

The band came back to Los Angeles for the first time in nearly 10 years to two sold out shows at the historic Hollywood Palladium April 30 and May 1.

Fans lined up as early as 9 a.m. to secure a spot as close as they could to one of their favorite bands.

The show opened with Brownstein’s “Portlandia” co-star Fred Armisen who took on the role of his British rocker alter ego Ian Rubbish for a short 20 minute set. He performed a few sillier songs including “Margaret Thatcher” and another about how he enjoys putting his boot in officer’s faces.

Seattle-based R&B/Hip-Hop duo THEESatisfacfion followed him soon after with their set.

The duo set up their laptop and mesmerized the crowd with their synchronized swaying and powerful bass instrumentals.

Singer Catherine “Cat” Harris-White’s soulful voice was complemented by Stasia “Stas” Irons’ rapping.

Their set consisted of songs that spoke about equality and tolerance to more controversial subjects such as legalizing weed and embracing sexuality.

After their performance and a few quick changes to the instruments onstage, the members of Sleater-Kinney walked in.

Their so-called “unobtrusive fourth member” Katie Harkin stood by Brownstein and Weiss onstage as she has for every show to date; the band sought her out on this tour to help them with keys and guitar.

The crowd screamed and applauded as the band stood in the dim lights, eagerly waiting for them to open with the song “Price Tag” which is also the opening track on their new album.

They proceeded with songs from their six most recent albums like crowd favorites were “Get Up” from the 1999 album “The Hot Rock” and songs from their most recent album.

“A New Wave” was a song dedicated to cartoon character Tina Belcher from the Fox show “Bob’s Burgers.” The music video for that song actually portrays the band in cartoon form in the “Bob’s Burgers” universe.

“Words and Guitar” was another crowd pleaser; Brownstein withered around on the floor as she has on most nights, which prompted everyone to take out their phones to document the moment.

Stage banter was kept to a minimum as they blazed through a 23-song set. The trio never missed a beat.

Brownstein kept to her usual high kicks and hand gestures that acted as routines to certain songs while Weiss moved her signature bob back and forth to each song.

Each member of the band kept a straight face while focusing on the songs.

There were a few times that Brownstein looked out to the crowd and would crack a smile because of all of the smiling faces staring back at her.

One particularly sweet moment was when she looked to one of the younger female fans in the front row who held up her hands in the shape of a heart which caused Brownstein to look away and smile.

They closed out the set with two songs from their 2005 album “The Woods,” high powered  song “Entertain” and one of their darker songs “Jumpers” which was written about the increased number of people who committed suicide by jumping off the Golden Gate Bridge.

After walking off the stage for a few moments, the band walked back onstage to finish off the night with a five song encore.

They started their encore with Tucker grabbing a microphone and standing at the center of the stage to thank Planned Parenthood for accompanying them on this tour before beginning to discuss the needs for women’s reproductive rights.

She proclaimed, “Give me equality. Give me respect. Give me love” which lead into a song entitled “Gimme Love” from the latest album.

Tucker proceeded to belt out the song and interact with fans that were in the front row. They then started riffing on their guitars before starting the energetic “Dig Me Out” that caused the audience to roar with applause.

I was pleasantly surprised to hear them perform “Let’s Call It Love” which they have only played a limited number of times on this tour.

The song created a strong presence with precise riffs and Tucker’s wailing voice accompanied by Brownstein’s breathy vocals.

The show was closed with another crowd favorite “Modern Girl” which was also from their album “The Woods.”

The stage lights dimmed to a dark purple that calmed the atmosphere since the song was a sharp contrast to the high powered songs that they played previously throughout the night. Weiss switched from drums to the harmonica as Brownstein sung.

It was a special way to close out the show because it felt like the perfect wind down to a night full of energy. The crowd swayed back and forth and sang the song at the top of their lungs.

As the show concluded Weiss and Tucker left the stage with their arms slung around each other with Harkin following them.

Brownstein stuck around for a few moments to hand a fan her set list and gave a few other fans guitar picks before shaking a few people’s hands and leaving the stage.

Overall this is one of the best shows I have been to.

The set list contained many crowd pleasers, the venue was intimate, and the crowd was ecstatic to be there.

To the long time fans it was special to see the band that they grew up with stand in front of them and perform songs that they never thought they would hear live again.