Undoubtedly one of the most important punk bands of the last 25 years, Washington’s Sleater-Kinney, who returned in 2014 after a near decade-long split, released a comeback album the following year, and played their first Nashville show in ages, at Marathon Music Works, shortly thereafter, have in recent years settled into their status as both seminal, critical darlings and a band whose entire musical ethos and reason for being feels more relevant now than ever. Celebrating their new ninth album, the masterful, St. Vincent helmed The Center Won’t Hold, the group, now technically a duo with the recent abrupt departure of longtime drummer Janet Weiss, will return to Nashville tonight, Oct. 21, this time for a fitting upgrade to the legendary Ryman Auditorium along with eclectic artist Joseph Keckler! Obviously, seeing one of modern punk’s best and most important bands in one of music’s greatest venues is a once-in-a-lifetime, must-see opportunity, and we’d strongly suggest you snag tickets here while you can, then read on for more about the show!
Springing out of the early ’90s riot grrrl scene of the Pacific Northwest, seminal punk outfit Sleater-Kinney formed in 1994, just a couple years after guitarists and vocalists Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein, at the time both playing in separate, popular bands in the Olympia, Washington scene, first met. Forming a strong personal, musical, and, for a time, romantic bond, Sleater-Kinney soon became the pair’s primary focus, managing modest buzz for their eponymous 1995 debut, and breaking out to a wider audience with 1996 followup Call the Doctor. Before 1997’s buzzy Dig Me Out, the band’s first for label Kill Rock Stars (after a fruitful early partnership with queercore label Chainsaw), S-K enlisted Janet Weiss as their new drummer, cementing a lineup that would last throughout every subsequent release. By the late ’90s and early ’00s, it was clear that Sleater-Kinney were one of America’s most important punk bands, positioning themselves as the perfect link between the politically and socially charged punk music of their era, more classic leaning alt rock, and the burgeoning indie rock scene of the new millennium, flexing their range across subsequent releases like 1999’s The Hot Rock, 2000’s All Hands on the Bad One, and 2002’s One Beat. By the mid-’00s, the trio had managed to attract a respectable amount of mainstream attention while maintaining their indie punk cred, expanding their road-worn live show supporting Pearl Jam on a string of arena dates. Subsequent 2005 seventh album and Sub Pop debut The Woods saw S-K take their most ambitious approach to date, crafting both their heaviest, most retro, and most sonically adventurous album ever, captivating critics but perhaps confusing some longtime fans. Not long after, the band abruptly announced a hiatus, and by 2006, Sleater-Kinney were effectively no more.
All three members stayed active, Weiss joining Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks and later teaming up with Brownstein for supergroup Wild Flag, Tucker embarking on a respectable solo career, and Brownstein, most surprisingly, becoming a certifiable celebrity thanks to her beloved sketch comedy show Portlandia, co-created and performed with SNL alum Fred Armisen (which, across eight seasons, managed to boost the band’s profile more than the first phase of their career ever had). Like many bands of their era, a break from the spotlight only served to contextualize the breadth and importance of Sleater-Kinney’s early years, and by the time they reemerged after nearly a decade, first for some unpublicized dates, then with a formal 2014 announcement ahead of a 2015 comeback album, they were bigger then they’d ever been in the first place. A true return to form, 2015’s No Cities to Love didn’t ignore the complexity and adventurousness of The Woods, but certainly also felt like a callback to the band’s earlier work, all updated with a contemporary sensibility. Subsequent years saw the trio return to touring, including their first Nashville date in ages, and an unhurried creative process for their recent ninth album, The Center Won’t Hold. Where No Cities felt like a continuation and hint of nostalgia, tapping longtime producer John Goodmanson, Center is the sound of a band truly moving forward into their latest phase, guided by producer St. Vincent, and exploring new sonic nuance, indulging some heavier influence, and reflecting on the state of the world without delving into a full on political commentary. While, unfortunately, Weiss abruptly left the band shortly before the LP dropped, her contributions can still be felt on the recording itself, and live, Brownstein and Tucker, the band’s founders and only constants, are sure to do it justice. We can’t thank of a better place than The Ryman to catch a band as phenomenal and important as Sleater-Kinney; don’t miss out!
An accomplished musician, singer, writer, and visual artist, whose work includes comedy, theater, and visual art in addition to music, Michigan born, New York based artist Joseph Keckler is acclaimed for his impressive vocal range and creative, operatic, dramatic, and theatrical artistic prowess. Critically beloved, Keckler’s live show seems often to incorporate monologues, performed stories, and multimedia content in addition to his inventive baroque pop songs, so we strongly encourage you to arrive early for his sure to be unique and entertaining opening set!
Sleater-Kinney and Joseph Keckler will perform tonight, Oct. 21 at The Ryman Auditorium. The show is all ages, begins at 8 p.m., and tickets are available to purchase for $32-52.