Sat, 02 July 2005
Seeing Sleater-Kinney on July 1, 2005 at the Variety Playhouse, Atlanta
I don't think you can "get" Sleater-Kinney on your first listen. Unless your first listen was live as mine was on May 27, 2000.
July 1 was great show and a great crowd, I think, bigger than their last show here. I hope all of you get the see S-K live. What a great, engaging, and professional live band, what great songs.
I enjoyed Dead Meadow's sludgey rock: dancing bass player, athletic drummer, fog machine, and "total package" singer/guitar player who just stood there and got the job done. They do highlight the S-K difference. If you replaced Dead Meadow's bass and drummer, they would still be Dead Meadow. Replace a member of S-K and it's no longer S-K.
I love the guitar riffs and tend to focus on Carrie. Her singing this time was her best yet. She is a wonderful musician and charismatic performer. For her it's not about perfectly clean playing, inspiring tones or technical brilliance. Like the Rolling Stones, she plays tight without losing the rough edges. Her riffs are original and almost always unexpected. She seems to have a million of them parsed out through the S-K catalogue. The Woods songs: "Wilderness," "What's Mine is Yours," "Jumpers," and "Entertain." have those odd and original riffs.
But Corin is spectacular on stage. From her modest demeanor she throws vocal lightning bolts. Full bodied and strong. I'm not sure she needs a microphone. Words fail me. Remove her guitar and she could dominate on any stage. Guitar wise, she plays the "easy" parts but her easy parts are the bedrock of the songs. During their performance I'd think, "where is that sound coming from?" It would be Corin.
I do have some complaints though; your results may vary. First, the freak out in "Let's Call It Love." Did you notice that the crowd went dead? S-K is welcome to do what they like but I found myself looking away from the stage and checking the time. Even the frantic, non-stop dancers in front of me lost their mojo for while. When "Night Light" finally came around, the freak-out had blunted its beauty. I had to get my motor started again. Dead Meadow is better at freak-outs.
Second, the cover, "Mother" by Danzig. S-K did a fine job on that song but I'd much prefer they'd done one of their own songs. Their songs are better than most others'.
So between the freak-out and "Mother" I figure they could have done at least 3 more of their own songs.
Finally I'm trying to compare the new "heavy" songs with the old ones when performed live. (Caution, I don't pay attention to the lyrics). To me, the new songs still sound like S-K to me with the guitars sounding a bit more sludgy. No problem by me. When "Burn Don't Freeze," "Sympathy," "Oh," and "Dig Me Out" came around, they sounded plenty heavy. But to me, the old songs have a certain sparkle that comes through a bit less on "The Woods."
Oops, I failed to mention Janet. I'm don't know enough about drumming to make any decent comments. But I was in a place where I could actually see her face. I stood on a chair against the left wall.
So, I could tell when she sang. I never realized how much she sang and or how important her vocals are to some of the songs. Her stock went way up with me last night and it was pretty high already.
S-K can jam all they want. They've done enough great work already. There are plenty of jam bands but there is only one S-K; only one group that does songs like that. If the jam bands could write songs like S-K's, they probably would. I don't think they'll move towards jamming unless they are really bored or they are unable to write more great songs.
One other small highlight for involves one of my music buddies: a musician and guitar teacher. When he recommends a show to me, he's always right. I told him about my S-K tabs so he started to pay attention. When he found out his grown daughter was going to the Atlanta show, he watched them on Letterman Monday. That convinced him to see the show. The last I saw of him last night he was slipping through the crowd towards the stage front. One more convert maybe. I feel like I did him a favor.
Thanks to my music buddies: Dave, Bill, Sam, and Katherine.