SLEATER- KINNEY at the Riviera Theatre – SOLD OUT
Friday October 18th 2019

Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker of Sleater- Kinney, touring on the strengths of their recent release, “The Center Won’t Hold”, with the first of two nights at the Riviera Theatre in Chicago.
Upping their game and experimenting with their rock n’ roll palette, Carrie Brownstein has stated about their recent release that “We’re always mixing the personal and the political but on this record, despite obviously thinking so much about politics, we were really thinking about the person- ourselves or versions of ourselves or iterations of depression or loneliness- in the middle of all the chaos.”
Sleater- Kinney spent their first raucous decade delivering increasingly on the unpredictable, with super adventurous and catchy albums that merged vibrant guitar interplay between Carrie and Corin, with over the top and a heavy punch of drums from Janet Weiss.
It’s sad to say that upon the announcement of this North American tour to support “The Center Won’t Hold”, Janet bowed out of the band and touring altogether.
So what to think in advance and up to the first of two shows at the Riv without Janet?
And what to make of their new album being performed live?
And what with all the confusion upon entering the venue only to find out that for us photographers, there would be no barricade and pit, and we’d have to shoot from the crowd, songs three, four and five?
And would there be backup musicians besides the replacement drummer?
So many questions, so little time to ponder and get organized to shoot something decent.
All questions answered with a timely and orderly fashion in this review, and have to say first off a couple things.
Not having Janet behind the kit weighs down heavily on the obvious. Having said that, Angie Boylan has filled in amicably behind the drumkit, and not an easy thing to overlook, and overcome, and on and on.
Towards the end of the first song in the set- “The Center Won’t Hold”, you forget about all the changes and replacements in the band, and realize that this is going to be a fun rock n’ roll show.
Angie was pounding away on the drums, stoic and refined, without breaking a sweat.
As far as the new album being performed live- The whole album was played in its entirety, interspersed throughout the entire set, and yes, there’s some hits and misses, just like any other rock show you attend.
The standouts: “RUINS”, “Reach Out”, and particularly “Hurry On Home” took on a breathless urgency.
Would rather not divebomb in on the misses, because that’s a matter of opinion, and everyone who sees the show deserves to make their own opinion.
Yes, there’s backup musicians in this touring juggernaut of Sleater- Kinney, with Katie Harkin on guitar and keyboards, Toko Yashuda on keyboards and backing vocals, along with Angie on drums.
As far as shooting the show without the assistance of being able to roam freely with barricades- I give myself a B minus in the portfolio provided.
I only wish I could’e been more stage left – audience right for when Carrie decides to go airborne and get all nutty in frenetic energy. And I wish I had gotten into the venue earlier had I known of no barricades, simply to avoid obstructions from 6″ 5″ tall men at the front of the stage, and girls wearing ten gallon cowboy hats also front and center.
But have to say, was lucky to wend my way through the crowd to at least get a spot somewhat close to the stage, three people rows deep from the lip of the stage.
So upon conclusion, Sleater- Kinney is definitely back and a lovely work in progress. Both Carrie and Corin exude a confidence like days of yore, dressing more fashionably and looking cool, with plenty of wide grinned smiles between the two of them to go around.
Put it this way: Sleater- Kinney still has lots of twists and turns aplenty.
Cheers- Bobby Talamine – Music Photographer

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