Then and now

I never thought I'd have the chance to see them again.  It was 10 years ago they announced their hiatus and I thought they were gone for good.  But recently I spent two evenings, standing in the front row, pressed against the stage being inspired.  Three woman who had meant so much to me were back.  I didn't realise how much I missed you Sleater-Kinney.

I guess it must have started in 1997.  My then boyfriend used to pick up interesting looking vinyl and buy it on a whim.  The cover of this album was great and looking at the photo on the back, these three women looked like the people I saw playing in pubs around Melbourne.  They looked like how my friends and I dressed in '97.  The needle hit the record and blew us away.  How did they make such an amazing sound?  Corin's crazy vibrato voice was like nothing I'd ever heard.  It was love.

We proceeded to research and found their earlier albums.  The drummer on these was from Melbourne (Laura MacFarlane) and so we discovered her band ninety-nine.  If you ever get the chance to go see them - do it.

Sleater-Kinney released four more albums after Dig Me Out before their hiatus in 2006.  I think what made them seem so different to other bands was that they wrote songs from a uniquely female perspective.  A recurring theme over many albums is where women fit in rock n roll.  They stated their intention to be the idolised posters on your bedroom wall.  They deserved to be on stage as much as the male rock bands.  They wrote songs about how women are portrayed in the media, about eating disorders, about relationships (gay and straight), about being a mother with a small child watching 911 unfold and wondering about the world your child has been born into. Looking at so many women in music today I think the reason I love them is because they didn't use their sex, but rather their gender in their music.  Corin, Carrie and Janet are amazing song writers, musicians and singers.

They walked on stage on the 10th March, and as I looked up I noticed that they had aged.  As had I.  It made me think about the 10 years since their last album and all that had happened in that time.  I recently dug out my old photos (taken with my film camera!) from when they had toured Melbourne.  I'm sure I saw them on two different tours.  This is a shot I took that I really love.  I managed to squeeze all three of them in.

But looking through these photos I also remembered something else.  At this gig I had a blast, dancing and singing.  Being awestruck.  My then boyfriend tapped me on the shoulder saying there was a good spot to see the band next to him.  I smiled and said I was fine where I was.  I was having a blast.  After the show I was on a high.  He was silent.  We got in the car to go home and he asked why I didn't come stand next to him.  I said I had a perfect spot where I was.  I turned the ignition on the car we'd only bought about a month earlier.  The fuel light came on.  Here we were in Richmond after midnight in need of petrol.  I got a shooting pain through my shoulders, a familiar spot when I'm anxious and stressed.  My boyfriend began to yell at me in the car.  How did I let this happen?  We'd be stranded and it would be my fault.  I drove off beginning to panic.  Every red light seemed to last forever.  I eventually saw a petrol station up ahead.  I drove in still being berated by my boyfriend.  As it was a new car I wasn't sure which side the petrol door was on.  I fucked up and had to drive around the pump a couple of times.  Laughing at me my boyfriend yelled that I must have 'fucking shit for brains'.  I bit my lip to stop myself from crying.  I got petrol and drove us home in silence.  Nothing was said until the following morning when he apologised.  But that was one of the first instances where something in the relationship broke.

Looking at my old photos I thought how different life is now.  I'm with someone different.  Someone who doesn't yell at me.  Someone who thinks I'm kind of amazing.  I went to these two gigs with female friends.  Surrounding myself with more inspiring and amazing women.  Maybe I feel the importance of the sisterhood now.  But one thing hadn't changed.  My love for Corin, Carrie and Janet.  I was front row for both gigs and had such a great view it felt at times like they were playing just for me.  I sang my heart out, took tons of photos and danced like an idiot.  I got goosebumps (literally) when they played particular songs (the sets were different on thursday and friday).  On the way home on thursday night, after dropping my friend off, alone in the car I had a little cry.  Happy tears this time.

I Googled to see how old SK are now.  They are all between 40-50.  At 45 I slot neatly into that age bracket.  I love that they are still great, inspiring musicians and I love that I'm still down the front watching them.  The ten intervening years has changed us all.  I'm less anxious and more assured. Perhaps that's the thing about getting older.  Watching them perform now I would say we are all changed for the better.




Carrie & Corin


Welcome back ladies.  It's nice to have your music in my world again.  You've inspired me for nearly 20 years.  Thank you.


KatintheHat said…
Fuck yeah, tears of happy

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