Concert Review: Sleater-Kinney – Live at the Power Station
Sleater-Kinney – Live at the Power Station 29/02/2016
Last night, Auckland’s Power Station was host to one of Olympia’s finest Indie Rock bands, Sleater-Kinney. Returning to New Zealand soil for the first time in 13 years, the trio played a set of their latest as well as the best of their back catalogue, for a total ripper of a set.
Words by Jessie Booth
Now, I always love that moment before the band graces the stage. That lull where everyone is loitering around the bar, paroozing the fairy-lit merchandise stand and admiring the op shop one off’s (sported by the majority of this lovingly alternative crowd of S-K fans) or sneaking their way through distracted friend circles to the front of the crowd… and there is that momentary quiet as everyone fills their lungs to welcome the band onto the stage; the moment when you see all energy fall into place. And the girls laid the power on thick and heavy last night.
If you are yet to hear the three piece, perform, (or perhaps even on record), their set consists of highly catchy riffage, tangy licks, and an unmistakably good match of vocals between Carrie and Corin that have equally unique, quirky and robust features. A marriage of timbres that fronts their music in all the right directions.
Now, if you can excuse the 70s stoner vibe of my next comment – the set just felt so gratifyingly ‘real’. It no pre-packaged, ready-made giddy-up, rolled in glitter and prepped for mass distribution. It was raw and had all the charm of a local dive bar performance (a comment I make in the most lovingly way possible, of course). What I mean by this remark is that you still had the little guitar noodles, and indiscriminate drum fills between songs, or you would catch them whispering in each other’s ears mid tunes. The girls broke the fourth wall as they talked casually to members of the crowd like they were had already acquainted. Which, in sum of all these casual displays, was all the more charming because when they were ready for business, they absolutely ‘brought it’. Their level of professionalism allowed for these so-called ‘deviations’ from mainstream music etiquette to have a comfortable place in the performance.
And what’s better? The empowering and supportive vibe of the Riot Grrrl scene that the trio came up through was on display that night as members of the crowd could be heard yelling “THANK YOU SO MUCH” to our very special guests.
‘Modern Girl’ broke up the energy of the set, taking it from rip-roaring, down to this refreshing intermission of mellow yellow lights and a totally captivated, sing-a-long crowd. Plus, who can miss that Beatle-esque harmonica melody hook? A somewhat euphoric recess before returning to the high-gain performance that had shaped the first half of their set.
Carrie Brownstein, as one of the front-women carried the energy of this performance. Janet was indisputably powering through the set like a storm, but Corin is often a stiff player so Carrie’s sporadic, quirky, erratic practice of entertainment was a captivating display. She flipped from stoic and poised to a wind-up figure of jerks and jumps as she kept everyone’s eyes on her.
Needless to say, Carrie’s 2015 musical memoir “Hunger Makes Me A Modern Girl” (which is also available as an audio book for you busy go-getters) is now officially on my wish list. It’s not hard to fall in love with Sleater-Kinney’s unique display of musicianship, and it has certainly, for myself, sparked a new appreciation for them.