Sleater-Kinney Take on Sheds (Live @ The Mann Center, 8/22)

Sometimes it just takes a pandemic…  For me, it took a pandemic to give a fair shake to what I’ve been calling Sleater-Kinney 2.0.  Sure, Dig Me Out and...

Sometimes it just takes a pandemic…  For me, it took a pandemic to give a fair shake to what I’ve been calling Sleater-Kinney 2.0.  Sure, Dig Me Out and One Beat soundtracked much of my coolest years, and I’d seen the riot grrrl, power trio numerous times at the 9:30 Club and the Trocadero before their hiatus in 2006.  But after not making the cut for their ultra-exclusive guestlist at Union Transfer on their 2015 reunion tour, I kind of stopped worrying about them.  And after longtime drummer Janet Weiss left in 2019, I let them comfortably drift off my radar…  However, more than a year into the pandemic and since I’d been to a concert, when the rescheduled dates of their “It’s Time [double headlining shed] Tour” with Wilco were still set to go, I decided to revisit these heroines of my youth…  And it was the right decision…

Although seeing Corin [Tucker] and Carrie [Brownstein], accompanied by a four-piece backing band, play a 75-minute set in a 14,000-capacity outdoor venue — most famous for sold out shows from the likes of Dave Matthews, Phish, and The Lumineers – was not the ideal situation to experience the band who wrote “I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone,” they did not disappoint, putting on likely the best pandemic show the City of Brotherly Love and Sisterly Affection has seen yet.

I’ve spent the last month or so familiarizing myself with SK’s post-reunion material (2015’s No Cities to Love, 2019’s The Center Won’t Hold, and Path of Wellness, released June 11th), which comprised the vast majority of the set.  And, while I still have to attest to the Kill Rock Stars years housing the brunt of their best work, their latest albums have seamlessly woven together their riot grrrl punk roots with a kind of shed-filling power pop that gives them a kind of Who/Jam aesthetic for the 21st century… which kinda seems to be what they had been hopefully heading toward for years…

No Cities to Love’s “A New Wave” could have been an outtake from the hyper-quirky and super-sing-along-able All Hands on the Bad One; The Center Won’t Hold’s “Hurry on Home” is a more playful, sassy, and danceable take on the protest punk of One Beat; and Paths of Wellness’ “Worry With You” is perhaps the best “Rock N’ Roll” song to come out all pandemic, like what the Dazed and Confused kids would groove to, had they been dropped in 21st century Portland.  The highlights of the set, however, tended to be the tracks off of The Woods, the band’s final studio album the first time around and seeming blueprint for their second go-round, including singles “Entertain” and “Jumpers” which have been dying to headline sheds and arenas since they dropped in 2005 (and also attest to the band’s true, pure, and deep connection with Pearl Jam).

*Thank you, Joe Noel, for providing the above video, which I’m more than happy to take down, if you’d rather us not use it.

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During the day Izzy Cihak teaches transgression, subversion, and revolution at Temple University. At night he haunts Philthy's best venues to cover worthwhile acts for Philthy Mag. Morrissey is everything to him and, in their own heads, all of his friends see themselves as Zooey Deschanel.