God, Lesley, was I wrong.
Many years ago, my friend Lesley and I debated over SLEATER-KINNEY. If I'm not mistaken, this would have been around 1998, before the release of their fourth album "THE HOT ROCK." I honestly just wasn't feeling them. Part of it was that I had a hard time with Corin Tucker's vibratto screaming. Another part of it was that I wasn't giving them a real shot.
Sleater-Kinney had been getting all kinds of press for "DIG ME OUT" and were heading toward "Next Big Thing" status, which made me wary. I just want to get to like a band on their own merit, without a bunch of people building them up. Have you ever avoided reading a book or seeing a movie because so many people seem to like it that it makes you suspicious that it might actually suck? Well, I'm dumb like that sometimes. (Nevermind the fact that I write a blog and all I ever do here is get in the way of you learning to love a band on its own merits.)
Fast-forward to a few years ago, when I stumble upon an .MP3 of Sleater-Kinney's "Combat Rock," a scorching protest song about the shameful lack of protest in America these days, from their equally excellent 2002 album, "ONE BEAT." The huge, almost arena rock guitar sound. Tucker's shaky and soaring voice punctuated with Carrie Brownstein's soulful moan. It finally clicked.
I had the honor of seeing them play at Omaha's Sokol Hall Underground the other night, and I'm absolutely sure it was one of the best concerts I've seen in years. They were explosive. I have a newfound respect for Janet Weiss's skills on the drums, too. Despite some problems with Brownstein's amp, they played about 75 minutes, finishing their set with an unwanky and blistering psychedelic jam on the epic "Let's Call it Love," the pentultimate track from their newest album, "THE WOODS." Midway through the song, I turned to a few of my friends and exclaimed, "FUCK!"
The end of "Let's Call it Love" blended right into the beginning of "Entertain," the band's new single (available HERE from Sub Pop). They tore the roof off the motha and said goodnight. If they'd turned the house lights on at that moment, I would have been satisfied. But they didn't. They came back onstage and did exactly what you always want every band you've ever seen in concert to do for their encore. They did a fistful of covers... Bruce Springsteen's "The Promised Land," Richard and Linda Thompson's brilliant "I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight," Creedence Clearwater Revival's "Fortunate Son" and the Danzig cock-rock masterpiece, "Mother" (the latter two tracks featured the lead singer of openers THE GOSSIP on vocals).
As the lead singer of The Gossip hurled herself into the front row in a suprise stage-dive, as if we were in 1990 Seattle, Sleater-Kinney tore into one final track, their own "Dig Me Out." I was so thrilled to be in that crowd, I got chills.
Tonight, my friend Lesley will bask in the glory of knowing that I will be eating crow for weeks to come. I will stick my tail between my legs and begin amassing the rest of their catalogue. Being wrong never sounded so good.
FOR MORE ON TONIGHT'S POST:
- Buy fugging sweet jewelry and more from Lesley and her husband Mike at Hunt N Peck.
- More on Sleater-Kinney at Sub Pop.
- They have a ton of downloads at their official site.