Back and stronger than ever, Sleater-Kinney rocked Union Transfer

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Sleater-Kinney | Photo by Megan Kelly | keganmellyphotography.tumblr.com
Sleater-Kinney | Photo by Megan Kelly | keganmellyphotography.tumblr.com

Back in October, Sleater-Kinney astonished their devout fan base by announcing a new album, dropping a new song, and revealing a tour, their first in almost a decade. Four months later, fans in Philadelphia were given a chance to witness the newly resurrected group.

After an opening set by the politically-charged Minnesota MC Lizzo – who preached female empowerment through her intelligence and sexuality, while mixing in a strong sense of intersectionality, mentioning the #BlackLivesMatter movement and Riot Grrrl – Sleater-Kinney took the Union Transfer stage on Saturday night to wild applause from the sold-out crowd.

Without a word, the band launched into “Price Tag”, the first track of their new album No Cities To Love and they were off and running. In an instant, you could see the excitement and enjoyment that the band gets from performing live. There is a kind of extra-sensory connection that seems to exist between Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker; the two spent the set tossing riffs back and forth as if they were back at their small practice space in the mid-90s.

Sometimes seeing a reunited band can seem forced or overly nostalgic, but the pure chemistry of Sleater-Kinney made this impossible. As they weaved through a setlist ranging from new to old, it was obvious that they were there on their own terms. They played almost all of No Cities, to the delight of the audience; released a little over a month ago, it has garnered widespread critical acclaim and was accepted as an instant classic by fans.

Also mixed in were classic tunes from their last few albums such as like “Get Up”, “Jumpers” and “Sympathy”; the crowd reacted passionately and it was hard to find a face that wasn’t grinning ear-to-ear. The energy was unreal; Corin Tucker’s vocals were heart-wrenching and emotional, especially when supported by Brownstein, who spent the set wailing away playfully, executing melodic and fuzzed-out guitar leads while wind-milling and kicking her way across the stage. Janet Weiss was tremendous on drums and backing vocals, keeping the set moving at an astounding pace.

After nearly two hours of a visually stunning and sonically lovely set, Sleater-Kinney closed the encore with “Modern Girl” from 2005’s The Woods and “Dig Me Out,” going all the way back to the 1997 album of the same name. The whole set was dazzling and surreal, from strong feminist lyrics laden with accessible emotions, to classic rock infused guitar solos and harmonica melodies. Sleater-Kinney is back and stronger than ever, speaking their minds with Riot Grrrl ethics, while playing the inventive and punk-inspired rock that they pioneered two decades ago.

Setlist
Price Tag
Fangless
Get Up
Oh!
Surface Envy
No Anthems
Start Together
What’s Mine Is Yours
A New Wave
Hey Darling
One Beat
No Cities to Love
Words and Guitar
Light Rail Coyote
Bury Our Friends
Sympathy
Entertain
Jumpers

Encore:
Gimme Love
Little Babies
Let’s Call It Love
Modern Girl
Dig Me Out

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