I have to admit, I was a bit cheeky on this one. As someone who grew up with a lot of punk, I'm criminally unacquainted with Sleater-Kinney. It's perhaps because I idolised a lot of male rockers, back then, none of whom took much time to cross-promote their female counterparts. NOFX, after all, once thought it pertinent to explain to Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna, "You can't change the world by blaming men." And the Punk-O-Rama compilations, which I always treasured as windows into the counter-culture, now seem in retrospect like the unadulterated sausage-fest circle-jerks they always were.
What I have gleaned since then, of course, is that when you get an opportunity to see Sleater-Kinney, live and in person, you don't say no. And so off I went, and it was certainly the experience.
Not many punk bands mature this well: some grow into new genres, or else stay married to a style which holds the adoration of an ever-decreasing circle of fans. Sleater-Kinney played a mix of old and new material, with emphasis placed on tracks from their most recent album, and their entire performance seemed to exist in the same sonic place. But this was undoubtedly because they were reinterpreting their earlier material in their current style, more riot wmmmn than riot grrrl, and resultantly it all felt both relevant and present.
Sleater-Kinney build towards driving, building, atmospheric rock, which washes over you in a layered cacophony, and envelopes you like a salty embrace. Where Sleater-Kinney once helped paved the way for a new wave of artists who are, by varying degrees, indebted to them – such as Karen O, Brody Dale and The Savages – here they show where those artists could potentially go. And, at the very least, they put on a show worth remembering for some time to come.