Normally when a band plays new material at a show the fans head for the restrooms, the beer lines, or are constantly looking at their phones and not paying attention. At House of Blues Boston this week, Sleater-Kinney wove their new record through their set completely, and the whole time the audience was engaged and loving it. Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker definitely were loving the vibe in the room, thanking Boston profusely for singing along with them and rocking out.
The night started off with Joseph Keckler, who did a very weird avant-garde performance. Joseph, a last minute tour replacement for Shamir, sang in an impressive operatic voice while the English translation of what he was singing was displayed next to him. Some of the translation was serious, some of it was hilarious. Then a movie played while he sang the next song. It was weird and out there, but it was captivating. He ended the set with a cover of “I Put a Spell on You.”
After a short break, the lights went out and Sleater-Kinney, a touring 5 piece juggernaut, played the first two songs that kick off their latest record The Center Won’t Hold, with the title track and “Hurry On Home.” With an impressive light show behind the band all night, they tore through almost 30 songs and two encores. While new drummer Angie Boyan was fantastic and perfectly in the pocket, providing the songs with exactly what they need, she doesn’t have Janet Weiss’s power or penchant for straying in a song and bringing that extra something special to the songs. Rounding out the band were multi-instrumentalist Katie Harkin, who’s been with them since 2015, and keyboardist Toko Yasuda, who’s known for touring with St. Vincent for her last two album cycles.
Of course all eyes were on Carrie and Corin all evening. Watching the two of them work in total unison 25 years into their career is a joy. Carrie let loose on her guitar often, especially in “RUINS”. At the same time Corin’s voice echoed all over House of Blues, still sounding like it did a quarter century ago. A few times during the show it was just Carrie, Corin, and Angie on stage, showing that the power trio can still get it done.
Eight of their nine albums were covered during the show and it was impressive to hear the breadth of their work next to each other. A stretch of songs moved from straight punk rock to droney stoner jams to a more classic feel and followed by their newer slicker indie sound. Sometimes when a band has so many sounds it doesn’t go together live, but it worked perfectly in Boston. “The Fox” brought the crowd to the next level as the show marched towards it end with Carrie jumping all over her side of the stage and “Animal” a few songs later saw Corin go full frontwoman, taking the mic in her hand and getting close to the fans in front of the stage.
It wasn’t all about the music though, as Carrie and Corin both talked about the current times we’re in and how it was nice to come to a show in Boston and feel good about being in a nice place with nice people. There must have been a few boos in the front as Carrie then joked how Boston is the only place that doesn’t like being called nice. It was a perfect moment for laughter as 2019 has been rough for many people. They both then urged everyone to register to vote with Headcount that was set up at the show.
The encore opened with just Carrie and Corin on stage for “Broken” and was followed by “Oh!” and the tour debut of “Youth Decay” which the whole band ripped in to. “Modern Girl” was a complete venue sing a long that wanted to blow the roof off the building. “Call the Doctor” and “Dig Me Out” gave everyone in attendance one last chance to go wild for these women who have rocked and show no sign of slowing down.
Article: Bryan Lasky