All photos: Ryan Kelly
“So what did you think?”
“I – I think I feel like I’m in seventh grade again. You should ask me again later.”
“But that’s good. That’s how you should feel.”
Following this week’s trend of female-fronted bands that I’ve loved for almost ten years, many aspects of this Corin Tucker Band show felt surreal. I was baffled that she was casually sitting at the back corner of the Backstage room selling her own merch, but more importantly, I was grateful that she was still making music. But above all, I was stunned that this woman, who a younger version of myself had viewed as an extremely dedicated magical blonde role-model, was playing none of the same music and making me feel just as vulnerable as I did when I first saw Sleater-Kinney in 2001. It’s a good kind of vulnerability; the kind that leaves you open for reflection, and later decisive empowerment as a result.
Openers Ideal Forms brought a clear, dark sonic tone to the room with graceful experimentation with surprisingly very little dissonance. Singer David Grant, wide eyed and rocking back and forth on the balls of his feet, delivered a nervous energy that defined the set. A rattling set with dizzying highs and crippling lows, Ideal Forms definitely made a name for themselves with everyone that was fortunate enough to catch them. And operating under such a calm and controlled demeanor should have been a deterrent, but it came off as simply confident rather than arrogant.
Corin Tucker and co. take the stage and the Backstage room is packed wall to wall. Tons of much older Sleater-Kinney fans and twentysomething riot grrrls pressed against the stage in unison. And with the first beat came the excitement of hearing such a memorable voice again, as powerful as ever. Opening with a few songs from the newest Kill My Blues, newcomers quickly realize that this band isn’t all about Corin. Drummer Sara Lund (formerly of Unwound) was an effortlessly precise machine, switching between time signatures with ease; guitarist Seth Lorinczi brings his own jarring, haranguing style as he maniacally wears out the stage floor beneath him, and bassist Dave Depper (Golden Bears) brings an even more panicked energy that typically escapes most bassists. All of this backed with a riott grrrl attitude makes a week-old album feel like an old favorite already with relatable themes and somewhat familiar territory that frame the constant experimentation.
Also following this week’s trend of amazing women performing amazing covers, Corin takes on Blondie in an encore cover of “Atomic,” and pulls it off brilliantly simply by contributing her own iconic voice. So many of the twentysomethings in this crowd grew up with this voice as a guide to surviving and thriving, so it’s very safe to say that most of these kids spent the show reflecting. Here’s Corin, in a very different place than she was ten years ago making different music with the same tenacity, and the same could be said for the crowd facing her. When you still stand for and believe in the same things you did in your teenage years, you find a way to apply it to adult life and make it just as meaningful, and I struggle to find a better example.