Friday, June 02, 2006Hot Rock
Sleater-Kinney are the real deal. They are a true rock band. Everything about them leaves me in awe. They still set up their own equipment despite having released seven albums and toured the world over several times. They play six song encores. They run their own merchandise stands at the end of gigs and seemingly aren't phased by meeting hoardes of obsessive (and sometimes scary) fans. They get the bands they love to support them, including The Long Blondes and The Pipettes, as well as Yeah Yeah Yeahs in the past. And they play live with such a passion that it really does give me the shivers.
So it was naturally very nice seeing S-K play in Berlin last week to a very enthusiastic audience of left-field indie kids, lesbians, feminists, Americans, old men that like PJ Harvey, etc. But part of me cannot let go of the injustices of it all. Sleater-Kinney have been, as previously mentioned, amazing for seven albums, yet they haven't got much more popular in the last three albums, each of which a step forward. Beth Ditto of The Gossip remarked in a recent interview with Artrocker that Sleater-Kinney have been playing the same size of venues for years, in an interview which said NME's chauvinism made her very afraid (a review in 2003 was disgustingly sexist and sizist about her), her general point being that the mainstream music press just won't take "the risk" with women, they won't put them on their covers, they won't do anything other than the odd "radar" feature. Exceptions have been Yeah Yeah Yeahs (Karen O, I think, can be quite easily typologised as an asexual enigma - in that her live performances are abound with a childlike naivety, rather than legs-spread sexuality) and PJ Harvey (because she is exceptional, and men of all ages fancy her). Music very rarely seems to the issue.
Which is why I'm glad to write for Wears The Trousers. When I look at their reviews page, I realise how many female-fronted bands and female singer-songwriters slip through the mainstream media's net. Admittedly Sleater-Kinney still get good reviews in all areas of the meejah, but there is a clear balance to redress. So back to my gushing on the gig...I'm not especially coherent today.
Their live performance is entrancing, it's so raw. It's empowering vocals, two guitars and one set of drums. It's punchy riffs, it's feedbacks, it's headaches for two days. It's closing your eyes and getting lost of the moment of the music. It's shaking all over. It's being lost for words as they leave the stage and still not finding them on the train home, and then writing an incoherent blog about the gig to try and make people understand. If you want to start out on Sleater-Kinney, go and buy One Beat. Download Oh! from that album here. Thank you!