It’s been a tumultuous year for Sleater-Kinney. Fresh off recording their ambitious ninth album, The Center Won’t Hold, Janet Weiss chose to leave the trio. Founding members Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker were left to contemplate a response to losing their longtime drummer to creative differences.
One one hand, the band had already taken a lengthy hiatus and their new album was a resounding success. On the other, Brownstein and Tucker had nothing left to prove. Legends of the punk, indie and riot grrrl scenes, they’d already inspired legions to take up instruments and challenge the status quo. They’d already helped chart a path for women in a male-dominated industry. Renowned music critics like Greil Marcus and Tom Breihan had even crowned them America’s greatest rock band.
Fortunately, Sleater-Kinney decided to soldier on. On their current tour, in lieu of Weiss, they added drummer Angie Boylan of Freezing Cold. Toko Yasuda of St. Vincent and Katie Harkin of Wild Beasts also joined the fold, helping to flesh out the results of Annie Clark’s (St. Vincent) collaboration on The Center Won’t Hold. Clark’s influence has even permeated Sleater-Kinney’s live show, adding a layer of contoured production that complements the band’s captivating immediacy.
Watching Sleater-Kinney perform 25 years into their existence, it’s clear we need them now more than ever. Amid social upheaval and a resurgence of overt prejudice and bigotry, artists willing to carry the flag of resistance are essential. Sometimes they couch that resistance in metaphor. Sometimes that resistance is refreshingly blunt: “I do want to be clear that Sleater-Kinney’s very existence is an anti-Trump statement,” Brownstein told NPR in a recent interview.
Sleater-Kinney’s current setlist spans the entirety of their storied career. But, because of the consistency of their lyrical approach and youthful exuberance, their catalog coalesces into a unified political statement that sounds as relevant as ever.
“The Center Won’t Hold”
“Hurry On Home”
“The Future Is Here”
“Bury Our Friends”
“What’s Mine Is Yours”
“One More Hour”
“Can I Go On”
“A New Wave”
“The Dog/The Body”
“Words and Guitar”
“Dig Me Out”
Andy Witchger (@andywitchger) is a naturalist and concert junkie from Minneapolis. You can find his work on Bring Me The News, First Avenue, The Current and his mom’s refrigerator.