To say the evening was fun is an understatement.
Sleater-Kinney played to a sizable crowd at the Marquee Theatre in Tempe Wednesday night who represented one of the most enjoyable gatherings of humans I have seen in a while. There was a true sense of excitement and anticipation in the air, as well as a positive vibe unlike any recent show I've attended.
Opening act TheeSatisfaction from Seattle worked its funky amalgamation of jazz, hip-hop, and soul as the crowd found its way into the venue. MCs Cat and Stas, who also do all the arrangements for the group, puzzled the crowd, I think, due to their extremely laid -ack approach and, at first, minimal stage presence. The interested crowd, though, which were many, got excited from time to time as the enigmatic Cat and Stas worked some limited choreography into their show.
From a musical standpoint, TheeSatisfaction reminded me of a cross between Spearhead, an even more mellow Luscious Jackson, and Cibo Matto. If anything, the gals from Seattle got the crowd talking about them and I overheard more than a handful of people saying they liked them, even if they couldn't quite put their finger on why.
After a brief set change featuring some traditional roadie-tuning-guitars action, Olympia, Washington's Sleater-Kinney gave their revved-up fans a grand entrance starting off with the killer post-punk anthem "Price Tag" off their new record, No Cities to Love. You'd never know the band had taken a decade off, as they were tight as a drum. The interplay between Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker's guitars is as intricate as that of any band out there right now and Janet Weiss' propulsive drumming kept the show moving at a solid, if not frenetic pace throughout their lengthy set.
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While the band prominently displayed newer material, there were some classic cuts interspersed in the set, which the crowd greeted with loving enthusiasm. Sleater-Kinney is a no-nonsense live band in terms of stage banter, but their enthusiasm for their craft is palpable. The crowd ate up every song and bobbed their heads, danced, and sang along. If anything, the anticipation that Brownstein would say or do something funny hung over many of the clearly star struck crowd, but the supremely talented guitar player who happens to help anchor IFC's hilarious sketch comedy showPortlandia stayed true to her indie rock roots and kept it 100 percent about the rock.
Weiss plays drums with an efficient ferocity, and every time I felt like I needed to jot something critical down, she would throw in another cool beat, roll, or flourish to make me forget any possible shortcomings. She does occasionally seem to get locked into a particular tempo, but this is never distracting due to Tucker and Brownstein's awesome guitar bobbing and weaving. Another great thing about Sleater-Kinney is how well Brownstein and Tucker (with excellent backups by Weiss) play off each other vocally. Brownstein is probably the stronger vocalist, but Tucker's truly a lead singer who carries the band to emotional highs Brownstein would not be able to match.
As great as the band was, the probably 65 percent female crowd stole the show for me. It was very empowering to see so many women happy, comfortable, and confident at a rock 'n' roll show. It is sad this doesn't happen more often, truly, because music really doesn't need to be controlled by any particular gender, sexual orientation, or ideology beyond having fun, releasing the tension of the day, and celebrating who we are when our shields are down and it's time to enjoy each other. Sleater-Kinney effuses this particular sentiment. The band brought the love and the crowd returned it in spades, both to Sleater-Kinney and one another.
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