Right now, Sleater-Kinney were supposed to be getting ready to head out on a big summer tour with Wilco. The two bands announced the shows back in March, exactly one day before the world started shutting down in the face of the pandemic. Wilco have said that they’re trying to reschedule the dates for 2021. We’ll see. Last night, in the meantime, Sleater-Kinney joined the list of bands who, in the absence of actual venues, have done the livestream thing.
The occasion for last night’s Sleater-Kinney performance was the All In WA benefit livestream, which raised money for Washington state’s COVID-19 relief efforts. Pearl Jam headlined the show, and it also featured Pacific Northwest musicians like Brandi Carlile, Ben Gibbard, Dave Matthews, and Macklemore. (Also, Sir Mix-A-Lot did “Baby Got Back.” This may be the first time that Sleater-Kinney and Sir Mix-A-Lot have ever shared a bill.) Carrie Brownstein and Corin Tucker, the only two permanent members of Sleater-Kinney, got together in a sunny living room to take part in the festivities.
During the stream, Brownstein and Tucker stayed away from the music on The Center Won’t Hold, the divisive album that they released last year. Instead, they went with the 2005 song “Modern Girl,” the one that gave Brownstein’s 2015 memoir its title. “Modern Girl” becomes a fundamentally different song without the titanic drums coming in halfway through, but drums were not available, so Brownstein and Tucker played the whole thing as a sort of acid-tooth ballad. This probably made things easier on the extremely cute dog who watched the whole thing. Someone was kind enough to rip a not-great YouTube video of the Sleater-Kinney performance, and you can watch it yourself below.
Sleater-Kinney are fundamentally not a quiet two-piece, and it’s interesting to see them adapt to circumstances. But you know what really would work in a quiet two-piece setting? The Spells, the Carrie Brownstein/Mary Timony side project that released one great EP, The Age Of Backwards, in 1999. Can we petition the Spells to play some kind of live-remote reunion? Because that would rule.