The Palladium was packed wall-to-wall Thursday night with what can only be described as a highly anticipated gathering of the potentially cooler half of Los Angeles. Meaning only that any Larry, Mo, or Curly fortunate enough to watch the band play live becomes incrementally cooler (even against their will) on the ubiquitous “cool scale” through some strange symbiotic musical osmosis. Whether newcomer or loyal fan since ‘94, all overeagerly assumed the role of the rock-crazed leach sucking the proverbial blood from Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, and Janet Weiss as they served up their 21-song set like a five-course, four-star meal. It had been nearly a decade since the band had played L.A. and when the tension finally broke, a levy of collective ecstasy tore through the historic venue. Fans recited lyrics at the top of their lungs to songs old and new—though the band intentionally stayed present day—playing a majority of songs off their new album, No Cities to Love.
True to form and cheeky as hell, Sleater-Kinney chose Ian Rubbish as it’s opener (a.k.a. Fred Armisen’s SNL British punk solo act complete with an overblown accent and penchant for chords E, A, and G only). Armisen was his usual hilarious self, singing songs about Margaret Thatcher and spewing banter like, “Wow, there’s a lot of equipment up here,” and, “If you sing along you gotta do the bloody accent.” After Armisen unceremoniously left the stage Sonic Youth lead singer, Kim Gordon, unceremoniously entered and then, proceeded to blow the effing ceiling off. Ears were left ringing and faces were melted.
Sleater-Kinney opened with “Price Tag,” a track about working jobs in the 9-5 machine and barely making rent. It was a savagely demure entrance into the set that incited even more frenzy when Brownstein approached the mic for the first time with Tucker and Weiss at her side. The set was rounded out by a fourth addition, Katie Harkin on guitar and keys. Though the band kept the banter to a minimum, they played with intense, undeniable potency. It was particularly moving (and all the while, ironic) watching the audience become somewhat disciple-like during songs like “No Cities to Love” and “No Anthems,” a very anthemy song. Other highlights included watching Browstein jump around and play guitar like a menace with total “I don’t give a fuck” abandon. All three women possess the aforementioned quality, but each in her own way. Tucker was extremely poised and still while she sang lead—not indulging in a ton of extraneous movement—mostly because her razor smooth belt alone transfixed to the back of the room. And Weiss’ drumming arms were steady, steady, steady—her virile lady beats were accentuated by her standard black bob and wind machine overhead—her timing was impressive as hell.
Though Sleater-Kinney made us wait, the night was evidence that it was time well spent. Seems like a hiatus that enabled each artist to partake in other meaningful artistic pursuits (Brownstein’s Portlandia, Tucker’s The Corin Tucker Band, and Weiss’ Quasi and Flag) that informed the new album, and got each member stoked to play together again as the ever-evolving indie rock trio from Olymipia, Washington.
Turn It On
What’s Mine Is Yours
Words and Guitar
No Cities to Love
A New Wave
Bury Our Friends
One More Hour
Dig Me Out