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Review: Sleater-Kinney rocks the Palace Theatre

In support of their eleventh studio album, Sleater-Kinney put on a vibrant show at the Palace Theatre.
Image by Ethan Lambert
Sleater-Kinney performing at the Palace Theatre in St. Paul on Saturday.

With their eleventh studio album “Little Rope” fresh in the minds of fans, Sleater-Kinney returned to St. Paul’s Palace Theatre Saturday with an enthusiastic crowd for a blistering 90-minute set.

On a cold day with a dreadful amount of snow looming, an hour before doors were set to open there were roughly just a dozen people in line. Half an hour later, the line became huge, presumably because of fans wanting to beat the cold.

Tim Riebel, age 42, got in line early and made it to the barricade. 

“I’ve seen them on every tour starting with ‘Dig Me Out’ to ‘The Woods,’” Riebel said. “This is my first time seeing them since they’ve come back together.”

Sleater-Kinney’s on-stage decor and visuals have a reputation for being top-notch, with two chandeliers hanging above their instruments. The band took to the stage and started with the song “Hell,” the album opener from “Little Rope.”

A remarkably ferocious track on record, on Saturday night it sounded as if the band was just getting warmed up before they would give their audience a showcase of nearly 30 years worth of brilliant music.

Sharing lead vocal duties, Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker’s voices sounded as strong as ever live. Tucker, one of the most talented singers in all of rock, showed off the incredible prowess of her voice on classic songs like “The Fox,” “Jumpers” and “Dig Me Out,” among many others. Brownstein, on the other hand, calculatedly gave the audience tastes of her powerful screams on “Jumpers” and even the band’s slow ballad “Modern Girl.”

Brownstein, as usual, was exuberant as she shuffled and danced across the stage expertly jamming out on the guitar, usually with a smile on her face.

The band championed their latest LP “Little Rope” by playing nine songs from it, almost the entire tracklist, live. Songs like “Small Finds,” “Don’t Feel Right” and “Untidy Creature” were standout performances during Saturday night’s show. A strong album on its own, the band effortlessly brought the material to life.

The best songs of the night, however, were many of the band’s classic songs from their decades-spanning career. Always boisterous in a live setting is “Dig Me Out,” the titular track from the band’s 1997 masterwork. The energy in the crowd was boiling as the band played the loud, high-tempo punk masterpiece.

From their 2005 magnum opus “The Woods,” the song “Jumpers” was also one of the best songs performed over the night for similar reasons — there was a tangible excitement in the crowd as both Brownstein and Tucker belted out powerhouse vocal performances.

In addition to the band’s classics, they also made sure to highlight some of the other great material they have written since they reunited in 2014 after a nearly 10-year-long hiatus. The band treated the crowd to two tracks from their 2015 comeback album “No Cities to Love”: the album’s title track along with “A New Wave.” 

“A New Wave” is one of the most fun songs in the Sleater-Kinney catalog, and the band brought it out with enthusiasm.

Additionally, Sleater-Kinney played a couple of songs from their much-overlooked 2019 album “The Center Won’t Hold.” While viewed by many at the time of release as a departure in sound for the band, the songs “Hurry on Home” and “The Center Won’t Hold” were warmly received by the audience when the band played them live.

On the “Little Rope” tour, Sleater-Kinney changed up the setlist every single night, something Brownstein said the band has never done before. The ever-changing variety of songs seems to be rewarding for fans and the band; it is something any band of the caliber of Sleater-Kinney should be doing on tour.

At the Palace Theatre, Sleater-Kinney proved once again that they are one of the very best bands to come out of the 1990s by reviving old classics in between stellar brand-new songs. Thirty years and 11 albums into their career, Sleater-Kinney are still killing it.

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