Rumors of an instantaneous sell-out at Turner Hall added to the lore that made Sleater-Kinney’s highly anticipated post-Valentine’s Day performance at the Riverside legendary. You know you’re all grown up when you can say you’ve been to the Riverside more than once in a calendar year. My time has apparently come. If any band was to do it I’m glad it was them.
The Elephant Pose
Riverside’s gorgeous Baroque interior couldn’t mute the obvious mental chatter permeating the foyer atmosphere, brimming with posers poser-checking other posers, myself included. My then-girlfriend, now-fiance, caught me laughing out loud while watching Portlandia a couple years ago, and enlightened me on Carrie Brownstein. I admittedly only had at the tip of my tongue, ‘Oh that cool looking girl who’s pretty funny?’
I imagine 5 out 7 people attending stood in the category of Portlandia fans first. My fiance even confided her deference for Bikini Kill when she heard Sleater-Kinney was coming to town, and she’s not even as big a Portlandia fan as I am, right? Really, it’s not worth being like the SXSW hoard. Really, it’s physically, emotionally and socially impossible to have been there for everything, especially anything that happened before 2005.
SXSW Hoard via Jimmy Kimmel Live
Clear the Non-Sense
None of that poser-pretension mattered inside the Riverside auditorium, only that the die-hard pretentious were sharing their moment, gladly letting a little rub-off on everyone else. Neo-true skool Hip-hop serial-banger Lizzo had already tenderized the crowd and Sleater-Kinney went right to work.
They riffed, Carrie Brownstein funky as ever, in a capped shoulder blouse and jeans, throttled then soothed her guitar strings. They belted, Corin Tucker grounded herself as if she was drawing power directly from the floor to mega-amplify her cavernous voice. They banged, Janet Weiss pelted her drum kit furiously. They animated life-less objects, the backdrop of their staging hung motionless upstage, gray and textured like concrete; brought to life under DIY special effects, cut squares wafting upwards, blown by a giant fan.
Sleater-Kinney, Entertain – Live (2015)
Sleater-Kinney’s prowess showed best in their updated delivery of gravity carrying songs like Combat Song and their willingness to drift-off to distant glory held in frenetic anthems like Not What You Want, while introducing new material from their latest LP No Cities to Love. Brownstein heaped tons of praise on Milwaukee for turning out on a Sunday night and gushed a little at the Riverside’s handsomeness. I’m sure everyone welled-up a little with classic Milwaukee exuberance, wishing only to turn the entire lower level into the pit.
Understanding they are a piece of the heart and a gasp of the breath of the last generation to leave home en-mass and in earnest at 18 or sooner, Sleater-Kinney was nothing less that impressive musically. To know they played The Globe with a lot less lights and people, is even more ridiculous. What else is there to say, if you weren’t their you missed two damn good shows, hopefully in 15 years everyone in the audience and on stage will still have enough spunk to do it again.
Sleater-Kinney dropped into Milwaukee as one of 20 U.S. stops on their international campaign for their latest album No Cities to Love.