When riot grrl rooted, indie rock trio Sleater-Kinney announced their reunion after a 10 year hiatus and dropped an excellent new album No Cities to Love via Subpop earlier this year, I practically had a meltdown and penned something like a love letter to the band. Needless to say I was extremely excited to finally have the opportunity to see them live after they announced two back-to-back shows, April 30th and May 1st, at the Hollywood Palladium.
Before it could be revealed if the long wait for Sleater-Kinney’s reunion show would prove to be a success I checked out the opening acts. Ian Rubbish, aka the English punk rock alter-ego of Portlandia funnyman Fred Armisen, took to the stage solo. I could hear echoes of his guitar and faux British accent wafting through the air as I made my way in. Even though his solo set isn’t as impressionable compared to when he has his backing band The Bizzaros, it’s impossible not to love him. The crowd sent him out with a roar of applause after his short but sweet set.
Next up was R&B hip-hop duo THEESatisfaction, comprised of rapper Stasia “Stas” Irons and singer Catherine “Cat” Harris-White. Before their set I ran into three girls in the bathroom who asked me if they had played yet. When I responded that they hadn’t they sighed with relief, then immediately became giddy that they hadn’t missed it. Felt like proof to me that there was more than just rabid Sleater-Kinney fans in the house. Armed with backing tracks and tons of swagger the in-sync duo had people hooked – clapping along to funkadelic beats and grooving to their spoken word infused style. The duo also made a poignant song dedication with “Mourning SAMO” for Ferguson, Baltimore, NYC and the Black Lives Matter movement. They finished strong with “Recognition,” from their album EarthEE.
Finally the moment of truth! Sleater-Kinney was greeted to the stage with immense enthusiasm and excitement from the hollering crowd. The band kicked things off with “Price Tag” the opening track off their new album No Cities to Love. At first it felt as both the band and the crowd needed a minute to adjust. Perhaps it was the sound levels not yet stabilizing or maybe the crowd wasn’t entirely sold on hearing new material. However, once the band settled in and came to grips with their bearings, by the second song there were no longer any doubts that Sleater-Kinney were on point and kicking ass!
They straight up pummeled the crowd with an avalanche of sound, featuring both new jams and classic hits alike. I saw small groups of friends jumping up and down in circles for “All Hands on the Bad One,” swaying bodies during “No Cities to Love,” and raised fists in the air for “Jumpers” which rounded out the core set. Corin Tucker’s vocal swells swept the crowd off their feet while Carrie Brownstein’s guitar kept the momentum and with every little pogo jump she did on stage the crowd responded with cheer. At one point Brownstein even got on top of Janet Weiss’ drum set, continuing to play guitar while doing so, drawing yet another uproar from the crowd. For me, Weiss’ bold and powerful drumming really blew me away. Each strike of the snare, each drum fill, and each extended instrumental breakdown sent a small shockwave through my body and put a stupid grin on my face. The rocky, textured background on the wall behind them had pieces of fabric that fluttered about wildly off and on throughout the set. It was also illuminated by color-changing lights which gave the band, and Weiss in particular, as she was closest to it, a unique visual platform.
Because you can’t have such an influential band just leave they came back out for an epic five-song encore including one of the bands biggest old-school hits, “Dig Me Out.” They secured a tight finish with a personal favorite of mine, “Modern Girl,” which had the whole crowd singing along – a perfect finish to a perfect night. Thank you Sleater-Kinney!
Words: Emily Saex
Want more photos of Sleater-Kinney, THEESatisfaction and Ian Rubbish? Check out the photo gallery below!