We Went There: Sleater-Kinney at the Palace Theater
There is something inherently cool baked into Sleater-Kinney. Despite playing a show with fancy lights at a stuff theater, they made the cavernous Palace in St. Paul feel like a rock club. Despite relying heavily on music from their latest comeback album that, while solid, doesn’t really hold up to their classic material, they played a 25-song, nearly two hour set that didn’t feel a minute too long. Despite having a backing band that was conspicuously tucked into the corners (including a new drummer replacing longtime beat-keeper Janet Weiss), Corin and Carrie were able to be both big time rock stars (see Adam’s photo set linked below) and also make the couple thousand strong, sold-out crowd feel like their favorite band was playing just for them. It was a great set from a band that seems unable to jump the shark or lose what made them great.
Opening with the title track from their new LP The Center Won’t Hold, the band mixed a good chunk of their new record with favorites sprinkled in from their seminal run on albums from 1996 to 2006 (with a special emphasis on their final pre-break LP The Woods). While the old songs obviously were great, the new songs still held up in the live setting. Early in the set highlights included the dark synth rumbling of “The Future is Here” and the military stomp of “Bury Our Friends” from their 2015 comeback album No Cities to Love. But it’s hard to top classics like “The Jumper,” “One More Hour,”
“The Fox” and the blistering set closer “Entertain.”
The band really saved the best for the two encores that send the crowd out into the cold fall night buzzing. Carrie and Corbin came back from their main set with a sparse duo version of The Center Won’t Hold heartbreaker “Broken” before a powerful one-two punch of One Beat’s electric “Oh!” and Dig Me Out‘s “Words and Guitar.” They wrapped the first encore with an effervescent version of “Modern Girl,” which caused a full-throated, arms-around-friends-shoulders singalong in my area. They could have left it at that and left the crowd happy, but the group came out for a second encore that featured One Beat’s “Step Aside” before closing with the closest thing the band have to an anthem, the title track from Dig Me Out.
I couldn’t help but think during the set that Sleater-Kinney have found not the fountain of youth, but the way to age gracefully as rock stars. So many bands from the 90s have either sold out completely or faded into the ether, and Sleater-Kinney have found an elixir that allows them to split the baby. There was reverence from the crowd (and a crowd that was , ahem, a bit older…), but this wasn’t anywhere near a novelty act. The energy, passion and timeless music pouring off the stage showed that Sleater-Kinney are exactly who they want to be. Long live Sleater-Kinney.
See Adam’s photos from the show HERE.
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