Monday, September 23, 2002

NEW SITE REVIEW: And, welcome to a new step-up, as we filch one of Alex's bsn reviews for the first time... Sleater-Kinney:
Becky is absolutely right; disgust is an easier emotion to convey than love, thrill, astonishment. I'll try my best.
The Sleater-Kinney show changed from the El Rey (due, according to Weeza, to a collapsed ceiling) to the Highlands club at the new Hollywood & Highlands complex. It‚s a LuxoPosh mall-type complex on the border of West Hollywood, hemmed by the Walk of Starall fiberglass and art deco balconies and -obnoxiously trendy Japanese restaurants and boutiques that you need an appointment to shop in. There are apartments built over the stores; the whole places was built in mind of bringing back mixed use ˆ residential zones on top of commercial ones because this city is spreading like a syphilis culture and we‚re running out of space. The place is very baroque and irritating - giant statues and friezes of Ganesh, Shiva, Osiris and Isis and Horus overlooking the main intersection, because you know we are oh-so high-minded and cosmopolitan yes we are (listen, architects, city planners, brainless trend-mongers who design these things: diversity *happens*. You can't manufacture it. A multicultural society grows up by itself, if you let it; building pretentious homages to the local gods along the walls of an antiseptic upper-class mega-mall is like razing the rainforest and filling it in with plastic ficus. We are one of the most ethnically diverse cities in the world - wonderful things could happen here if you‚d quit trying to give our metropolis the cultural equivalent of breast implants). The club is on the fourth floor, which is
unusual - I've been to above-ground discos, but never a live club; you'd think the weight of the stage, the merch table, the bar, the equipment, and a moshing-pogoing-pounding crowd would be a hazard, especially in a place as seismically capricious as this. Indeed, during the show I could feel the floor bouncing and flexing underneath us. But obviously it didn't crash through and kill me ‚cos - check it out.
The Quails went on with a Rice-a-Roni joke (they hail from my hometown and Becky's currenttown) and two guys began an awkward and short-lived chant about the San Francisco treat. Los Quails are a perky indie power pop grrrl-lite trio featuring two girls and a guy; they all sing, including the drummer (singing while drumming is a feat that never fails to delight me) and their female singer-guitarist has a vibrato not unlike Corin Tucker's, only peppier and not as deep or rich. The Quails‚ tunes are energetic and fleshy and cute; they were talkative and should have been able to establish a better rapport with the crowd, but most of us, for some reason, weren't having it. I danced around the outskirts of the audience, trying to get something going, but only a few people followed suit. I defer to The Gossip's excellent analysis of situations such as this:"No thanks to the squares who don't dance - Yr boring!" The Quails were bouncy and engaging and get a big thumbs-up from me.
Next up was Shannon Wright. A singer-guitarist-pianist from Florida, she's got a voice like Fiona Apple in a torture chamber and a stage presence like Linda Blair in a mental ward. She whispers and screams and moans and flails and spins and belts and crashes and pounds and stomps and thrashes; her music is melodic, dark, raw ˆ she reminds me of a punk-rock Portishead, with strong shades of Tori Amos. Moody, angry, desperate, surreal. She threw herself around the stage, wailed like a police siren, and at some point left her mic in favor of leaning into the audience and screaming directly at us with her jaw jutting out and her eyes squeezed shut. She held strained and broken notes impossibly long, fading out like a dying wind-up doll. Her set ended abruptly when she sang her last lyric and stomped offstage, knocking over her microphone with the neck of her guitar in a final, styptic clang. Much of the audience seemed put off by her, particulatly the men. She made my heart beat faster and my body shake.
You know how a good show can be a blur, so I won't give a play-by play; SleaterhyphenKinney arrived and rocked our socks the fuck off. Corin's voice was gold; bold, heartbreaking, half-polished and half-raw, wrapping fingers around my heart and slipping them between my legs. You wonder how she doesn't deflate like a ruptured balloon at the end of every song; she seems to throw every atom inside her into each note. Her voice has a sharp delicious bite onstage that isn‚t as apparent on their albums. Carrie has brought back her slo-mo kung fu, and was all over the stage she had a much more active presence here than at the last show I saw. They played for about an hour and a half, including the encore; the crowd twitched and flailed and danced and jumped and screamed and sang. Their encore included a cover of Promiseland by Bruce Springsteen in which Janet played harmonica. Afterwards, she said she saw a guy in the audience who sang along with every word. The floor felt like it was going to break under us; it bent in time with the pit. It was like standing on a trampoline while everyone around you is jumping; I was literally thrown an inch into the air every time it crested. Step Aside has supplanted Dance Song ‚97 as their bouncy set-ender,and brought us to a boil before the lights went up. The show was astonishing. I get retrospective butterflies thinking every time a piece of it accidentally replays in my head. My body still aches.
I'm more in love than ever.
So that's that.

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