Breaking news: A riot broke out in Sydney’s famous Opera House Concert Hall this Sunday. Well, perhaps not a riot by the conventional ‘grab your torch and pitchforks’ definition. Rather, through a loud and energetic “FUCK YOU” to the patriarchy as legends of the riot grrrl movement, Sleater-Kinney, shook the ear drums and heart strings of all present.
As the closing act of the All About Women Festival – which, as the name suggests, was a weekend dedicated to inspiring women across a variety of fields – original girl punks Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and longest-serving drummer Janet Weiss took the stage. Several songs were also accompanied by Katie Harkin on guitar, keys and percussion, who set the tone of bad-assery halfway threw the first song as she nonchalantly flung her drumsticks across the stage (something I assume the prestigious Opera House isn’t too accustomed to).
The show was of obvious significance to Tucker and Brownstein, who arrived in Australia 22 years ago with two guitars and some songs, and actually formed Sleater-Kinney and recorded the first LP on our humble shores. Watching the interactions of these women, many moons after the original bands’ creation, was evidence that the sisterhood is alive and well.
With eight albums and two decades of music to work with, there was a diverse range of tunes to choose from. They largely played tracks from their newest album No Cities To Love, amidst old faves such as ‘Entertain’ and ‘One More Hour’ (about Tucker and Brownstein’s break up) – although the absence of ‘Hot Rock’ was regrettably noted.
My two qualms with the performance were completely independent of the unmistakable talent and energy of the artists. The set itself is one of the best I’ve ever seen, but the choice of venue felt restrictive. The early parts of the show seemed incredibly quiet, and a seated position is certainly not appropriate for a Sleater-Kinney gig. However, it only took a few songs worth of itching in our seats before people began to boogie. By the end of the evening, nearly everyone was dancing – including Corin. The sight of a her rolling on the floor screaming ‘Gimme Love’ during encore in her relatively professional attire was joyously reminiscent of mum after one too many vinos (if your mum was one of the coolest punk rock chicks in history).
The energy of the set was largely driven by the raw power of Weiss’s speedy handwork on the snare. Between ‘Iron Clad’ and ‘What’s Mine Is Yours’ I scribbled on my hand “find drum teacher”, and spent the rest of the set envisaging how I will go about convincing my housemates to replace our dining room table with a drum kit. As Weiss smashed the drums, Brownstein smacked her head and chest, and Tucker wailed, I felt as though I was part of some girl-power tribalistic initiation, and the entire audience was left ready for battle.
Sleater-Kinney continue their Australian tour with three nights at The Croxton in Melbourne before hitting Golden Plain Festival in Meredith. Unsurprisingly tickets have sold out for all four shows, but you can air drum along to their new record in your room to fill the void.