Friday, September 02, 2005

A Fan Base Aping Richey Edwards On A Good Day

This being their first time ever in Dublin, and the first tour since the release of their Sub Pop debut “The Woods”, said to be a Sleater Kinney state of the nation address to post-Iraq America, there was quite a hopeful hype built up prior to this one. As well as the usual disappointment that the gig was with MCD rather than an independent promoter like U:Mack, a fair criticism given the political edge many like to attach to the band. It would seem Sleater Kinney are a tough 'un when it comes to touring, so the opportunity to see them live on home turf must be leapt at. Like most bands that at one stage answered the angst of teenagers, you have some vague idea of exactly what to expect from a Sleater Kinney gig. The crowd was made up of people using this gig as an opportunity to see a band they once loved, but now could only be bothered to stand around and fold their arms. There was also a small scattering of young devotees, bedecked of course in the bands uniform – some with “SK” marker-ed across their breast plates - all dressed up thrift shop sophisticated, but just looking like those lost old Manics at gigs in the point screaming for songs off the “Holy Bible.”

Despite all the prior excitement, did they live up to expectation? This just turned out to be another indie gig in the soul-less black cube that is the TBMC when it does indie. Awkwardly timed to end minutes before 10:30, giving management enough time to fling us all out before trying to pack the place back up again for whatever crap Tuesday night club they put on after the gigs. If you are not familiar with Sleater Kinney, and I have only ever slightly dabbled in them – imagine the Riot girl dual vocal mechanism bouncing back and forth between jangley rhythm guitars. Corin Tucker's vocals seem like more potent Patti Smith, whereas Carrie provides the cutesy/angry dynamic of bands such as Bikini Kill. like while the lyrics seem to be shot through with the “personal is political” politics and attitudes of the early nineties Olympia scene.

With just one track off “All Hands On The Bad One” and the encore made up primarily of older material, it was surprising to see the crowd so familiar with the new stuff so soon after it's release and lapping it up they were too. Sleater Kinney are one of these bands that can grip you if you are in the right mood, if the venue was smaller maybe more of their power would have carried, or if the crowd wasn't of such an obvious demographic that'd they'd all clearly moved on from the band. For most of the gig it felt like I was revisiting the less grungy moments on Hole’s “Live Through This”, only half livened up by staccato power-chords and thumping percussion that never exploded in the direction I was hoping despite many assertions that SK's Janet is one of the best rock drummers about. Then maybe thats the problem, this is just rock, and at that they are no L7. Carrie Brownstein managed to pull off some rather impressive Angus Young moments, gripping her SG pogo-ing on the spot, before bursting into the occasional improvisation as the rest of the band followed her leads. One such tortuously long spur of the moment song intro, prompted one young fan to scream “you're just teasing us now.”

Post gig there was the plenty of fan's fawning over how gorgeous the band were on-line after the gig, especially taken as they were with the head turning in unison routine during one of their songs. But the general assessment was divided. Of older fans I knew, most were unmoved including die-hards who's travelled abroad to catch them in the past. To begin with they'd either had no expectations and this was a nostalgia buzz, or it was an expectation of greatness spurned by diminishing marginal returns. The young 'uns? Well they were rapid with excitement after it. Thinking back to the last gig I went to in the TBMC - the Hacker - it's easy to come to the opinion that once you've seen one pulsating act with electro bass lines by the bucket load in a venue, then whatever the gender make-up of a guitar based band it seems it can never fill the same void again, unless of course they are really something spectacular. In the wake of groups like Le Tigre, its worth asking the question does a group like Sleater Kinney have anything to offer us while selling the same essential formulae since the early 1990's?

Sleater Kinney Played The TBMC on August 30th.

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Soundtracksforthem specialises in iconoclastic takes on culture, politics, and more shite from the underbelly of your keyboard. A still-born group blog with a recent surge of different contributers but mainly maintained by James R. Big up all the contributers and posse regardless of churn out rate: Kyle Browne, Reeuq, Cogsy, Chief, X-ie phader/Krossie, Howard Devoto, Dara, Ronan and Mark Furlong. Send your wishes and aspirations to

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