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Hello June on Sleater-Kinney: A Concert Review


(Photo Credit: Sarah Rudy)


The moment that the intro for “Hell,” began to bounce around sonic space, my heart began to pound so loudly that I could hear it in my ears.  As each band member entered onto the stage and took their respective places, anticipation heightened. Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker seemed to glow. As the song begins, I feel what would be analogous to being 17 years old and jumping into my best friend’s car on a sunny day - with the windows rolled down and the music blaring. The definition of exhilarating. Tucker lets the crowd marinate in her droned and drawn-out verses, welcoming them to swim among her thoughts like, “Hell is just a signpost / When you take a certain path” and “Hell is just a place that / We can't seem to live without”. Driving synths, crashing cymbals, and aggressive guitars pave the ground that was laid for the chorus, though, and the stark contrast is a poignant reminder that Brownstein and Tucker are driving the experience.The show was hypnotic at times, and energetic at others - sometimes, it was both at the same time. Unsurprisingly, they oscillated between playing songs off of their latest 2024 release, ‘Little Rope’, to playing songs that date back to the 90s. A song pulled from the archives, “Modern Girl”, began with what seemed like one reverb-drenched guitar, and an undeniable focus on Carrie Brownstein and her words: “Took my money / And bought a TV / TV brings me closer to the world.” The emotional depth of her lyrics in this song and many others felt more like electricity than a soundwave. I felt this many times during the show - Brownstein and Tucker are both captivating - Carrie, with jumping around and showing physical and verbal expression, and Corin, for her strong and unwavering presence. 


Coming out of “Modern Girl” was an explosive version of “Untidy Creature.” Catchy and strong, the song floats on and feels weightless. Breaking down the noise to purely piano and vocal in the middle of the song feels vulnerable and close, which is contrasted with the end, which feels anthemic and dense. Before the song concluded, Corin stepped off the stage and joined the crowd singing, “You can try to tell me I’m nothing and I don't have the wings to fly”. The energy felt reciprocated, and it was powerful.


I was curious to see how someone other than Janet Weiss supported the songs, and I was pleasantly surprised to feel that Angie Boylan was up for the big task. Of course, her sound is different, it should be. Angie pulled off the old songs without feeling like she was strictly regurgitating, and the rest of the 5-piece band felt full and dynamic. 


The show concluded with four encore songs that were a mix of old and new (“Good Things,” “Say It Like You Mean It,” “Dig Me Out,” and “Entertain”). The highlight of the show for me, though, wasn’t an encore song, but rather the moment that Carrie requested that the lights be turned on so that she could see the audience. While this sounds abrasive, I promise, it wasn’t - it felt natural and it felt connected - she wanted to see our faces, share our energy, and remind everyone that we are here, dancing together. “Life is short,” she said with conviction. “It’s why I jump around!” This theme runs throughout the album and makes perfect sense that it does - the loss of her mother and how that affected her is all over the new record. As the show concluded and we all walked towards the exit, I felt a looming positivity hanging around. I felt like we were all leaving with more than the price we paid for a ticket. I love shows where I am reminded that music is more than just an accumulation of notes played over a certain duration of time - it's what we all take from it and Sleater-Kinney sure does give a lot to their fans.

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