Published Mar 03, 2015The return of Sleater-Kinney is significant for so many reasons, but perhaps primarily because they might be the only reunited band of recent years to come back with everything that made them special intact; it's as if their nine years away was nine months.
After going on an "indefinite hiatus" back in 2006, the highly influential trio arrived in Toronto to perform for a fan base that is split into two categories: one there from the start that is welcoming them back, and a new one, grown during their time away, able to see the band for the first time. By the end of the night, both sides were united in awe after witnessing their heroes play a blistering 24-song set.
Walking out to a hero's welcome, Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, with Katie Harkin filling in on percussion, guitar and synths, immediately launched into "Price Tag" and "Fangless," the first two tracks from their new album, No Cities To Love. I got the sense that anyone in the crowd would've gladly accepted a front-to-back performance of No Cities, but S-K really made the most out of their first Toronto show in nearly a decade. Instead, they rolled out a greatest hits-like set that spanned all but their first two albums.
While some bands slow down with age over the years, Sleater-Kinney were a true exception to that rule. Brownstein was all about breaking into rock poses, kicking her legs out, playing her guitar from her gut and jumping all over the place. Weiss was a fucking powerhouse on the drums, pounding away on "Youth Decay," keeping the hypnotic time of "Get Up" and obliterating the kit on the intro to "Entertain." Tucker, though, had the toughest job, consistently emoting with her patented cry on more demanding songs like "One Beat" and the slower "Sympathy," on which she absolutely nailed the climatic, bluesy wail. No example was truer, though, than "What's Mine Is Yours," on which they achieved a pure synergetic rush travelling through its sludgy, droning mid-section.
For the encore, they first admired one die-hard's "No Cities To Love" tattoo before reminding the crowd of their purpose: to inspire change in the world. And after promoting Planned Parenthood, Tucker yelled "Gimme respect! Gimme equality!" and then jumped into "Gimme Love," for which Tucker handed over her guitar to Harkin in order to take full control of the vocals. Weiss then added a harmonica to her workload for slow epic "Modern Girl," in which Brownstein began to draw things to a close.
As the final night of their current tour's first leg, Sleater-Kinney invited opening act Lizzo and their stage crew out to join in on closer "Turn It On," going out with a handclap-led bang. They left the crowd riveted, stunned and lucky to have Sleater-Kinney back in our lives again.