with Versus

Howling Wolf, New Orleans, LA • March 13, 1999

I had waited quite some time to see Sleater-Kinney. I guess I was interested in seeing them since Azalia Snail inadvertently turned me on to them. I grew to love the band’s music and the songs of Corin Tucker’s first band, Heavens to Betsy. But when you live in the Southeast and the band you like is in the Northwest, it’s not real easy to see them. I missed a couple of opportunities before, so when they were hitting the Big Easy, I was there. Jammed into the hot confines of Howling Wolf, I patiently stood through a tight set by the New York City band Versus. I had seen them before — they always put on a good show and are hardly opening act material. But the crowd was there for the girls from Olympia. It was an older crowd, no angry high school girls in sight, which was probably a good thing based on what was about to happen.

Sleater-Kinney hit the stage and started playing with a sound much richer and cleaner than I had expected. Corin Tucker on one side of the Wolf’s big stage, with Carrie Brownstein at the other, and Janet Weiss on drums, erasing the memory of Riot Grrrl icon Toni Goggin. After the first song there was a pause as Corin Tucker talked to the crowd in an attempt to cover Janet Weiss’ drum kit adjustments. She was sweet and jovial, a far cry from the picture many ‘zine writers have painted of her. They went back with a terrific rendition of “Little Babies” and another song, followed by drum repairs. During this interlude, Tucker informed the crowd that Carrie had hurt her back and the set might be short. Sleater-Kinney launched into another song. At the song’s conclusion, they walked off stage. After a few uncomfortable moments, Corin Tucker strode to the mic and announced Carrie couldn’t go on.

Apart from a few murmurings of “rip-off,” the large, hot crowd was mostly supportive. “I hope she’s all right,” was a common lament. People were jamming the band’s merchandise table and trying to decide where to go next. Frankly, I thought a good old-fashioned riot was in order. Burn down half the Warehouse district. I mean, they were once Riot Grrrlz!

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