Photos By Clarissa Villondo, Words By Jeb Gavin
So much ass kicked. So much. Is this an unprofessional assessment of a concert? Probably. Possibly. Do I care? Not a whit. I wish I could say I was desperate to see Sleater-Kinney but the opportunity fell in my lap. I couldn’t be happier for it. The second night of their two night stand at the 9:30 Club on Wednesday was an absolute blast.
Before I get ahead of myself, I am declaring this the year of the opener. For years I wouldn’t miss one. Then I started to slack. Openers are where you get to see artists your favorite artists like (usually.) It’s an opportunity to learn (and get bragging rights if you’re into that sort of thing.) Opening for Sleater-Kinney last night was Lizzo, a Detroit rapper who is –not just was- is amazing. Picture a blonde Reggie Watts, but twice as earnest, rapping like Andre3000. Then throw in a live drummer with a set of mallets and Sophia Eris playing early ‘90s sounding Beastie Boys beats and you get some fragment of an idea how killer this opening act was. If you have no idea who Lizzo is, get Lizzobangers immediately- and don’t just listen to “Batches and Cookies” on repeat, no matter how tempting.
Now to the main event. Carrie Brownstein has been busy with Portlandia of late. It makes her seem like your wacky aunt who gives fun but educational gifts. Then your mom casually mentions your wacky aunt was once a pyrotechnican and you can’t believe it- until your aunt teaches you how to build roman candles. I forgot Carrie Brownstein shreds. Like, stack St. Vincent on top of Marnie Stern covered in Kaki King and it adds up to Carrie Brownstein. When on stage with Corin Tucker and Janet Weiss they’re well, explosive together.
Over the course of 90 minutes Weiss all but beat her drums to pieces with the sort of rhythms more reminiscent of an angry John Bonham taking over someone else’s kit. Tucker and Brownstein trade these deceptively complicated licks, one after another after another with such glee. Tucker’s vocals are terrifying- not scary, just intense. They warp the room rather than bouncing around it. I can’t help but think of Heath Leger’s character in 10 Things I Hate About You besmirching indie rock bands as “chicks who can’t play their instruments.” Utter nonsense.
Every so often they’d hit upon a false start and play it off like some inside joke they’d let the whole audience in on. Songs were dedicated to cartoon characters; Planned Parenthood got a shout out for being on tour with the band; Lizzo was thanked for being an awesome opener. Sleater-Kinney is back and badder than ever. They could’ve played a dozen more nights, selling out every one- deservedly so.