Autobiographical Order No. 356: Sleater-Kinney – No Cities to Love

I have kind of a love/hate thing with reunions. Sometimes it’s best for a band to step away from the spotlight when they have the opportunity. And sometimes it’s just a matter of needing some time to breathe and regroup before making music again. There are certain bands whose reunions I’ve found to be incredible, like San Diego’s very own Drive Like Jehu, or one of my other post-hardcore favorites, Quicksand. There are also bands, like LCD Soundsystem, who made a big thing out of breaking up and then came back five years later. And look, I like LCD Soundsystem a lot, but why make a big to-do about the end if you’re just gonna be like “just kidding!” That being said, if Unwound or Botch announced they were playing shows again, I’d be there in a heartbeat. So, yeah, I’m a hypocrite I guess. Or just picky about the reunions I care about, maybe. (Jawbox’s reunion this summer made me go bonkers, so, well, yeah…)

I am, however, 100 percent here for reunited Sleater-Kinney. The last time I saw them before their split in 2006 was in 2004, not long before their then-new album The Woods was released. They played a show at SOMA that should have been a great show. Yet the sound was bad, the venue felt totally wrong for them and kind of sapped all the fun out of it. It was kind of a shitty way to close the chapter on the band for me. What could have been an awesome show was kind of just an OK one—through no fault of their own.

When Sleater-Kinney announced that they were not only playing shows again but actually releasing new music, I damn near lost my shit. They’re perhaps my favorite band, I dunno, ever? That might not be true, I have a lot of other favorites (sup Baroness) but it’s a tie for first at least, and I basically ended up pre-ordering the fuck out of No Cities to Love the moment it went online, and not just the standard version but the deluxe box with the white vinyl and the bonus 12-inch featuring two bonus tracks. I’m that guy. Judge me. I have no regrets. (I also reserve this for very special bands.)

It’s awesome, too. It’s kind of rare that a band can be split up for 10 years and then pick back up like nothing changed and somehow make one of the best records of their career. I mean, that’s hard to do. But it’s not like Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, individually, stopped making music and got rusty in the meantime. So when they got back together it was pretty much all bangers: “Surface Envy,” “Bury Your Friends,” “Fangless,” “No Anthems”…they’re just kicking ass from beginning to end.

And when my wife and I drove to L.A. to see them in 2015—something we do only for bands that are worth braving the traffic, mind you (which is not many)—they more than made up for the one bummer of a show that kind of made their breakup all the more satisfying. The show was packed with hits (seriously look at this setlist my god), and we were so excited about it that my wife actually accidentally left my debit card in an ATM before the show. I managed to have it canceled and a new one shipped out to me during the opening act (a singer/songwriter dude which was actually Fred Armisen, as I later found out—the Palladium is big and it was kind of hard to tell what was going on). So it all worked out. So sure, kind of an inconvenience, but we got to see Sleater-Kinney. Nothing could ruin that.

Rating: 9.2

Sound Quality: Great

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