I did a bad thing on Wednesday night. I was in a bar, some random joint in a part of Chicago that I’m not too familiar with. I was there at the behest of a few recent acquaintances; we had gone out to drink and bullshit. What we didn’t know was this bar was going to have live music that night. We found out when the band began to set up.
So we listened to the Sherrie Adams Band play a few songs and they were actually good. They even did a Liz Phair cover. But still, I got up and left, dragging my cohorts with me, stopping only long enough to engage in a bit of banter with Adams herself after she yelled at us for heading towards the door. My group went down the street to an overpriced Irish bar with rude staff instead, all because I wanted to be able to talk to these people I was with.
Friday night, while waiting for Sleater-Kinney to perform at Chicago’s Metro, looking around at the sold out all-ages crowd—kids half my age up to that twenty-nothing I wish I could still pass for—I realized my error. These indie kids would have been excited to be sitting in a random bar and have the likes of Sherrie Adams take the stage. Not one of them would have walked out.
This is at the root of why I am unworthy of Carrie Brownstein, Corin Tucker, and Janet Weiss. Not because Sleater-Kinney is some sort of new thing, a new sound. No, this band dates back to a time when I would have fit in in the crowd at their shows. But I no longer live for the music with the idealism and passion I once did. I turn thirty in less than two months and I can’t relate to the indie kids anymore, not on their level. Perhaps too much good music has already changed me, but sadly enough, I can’t be a Sleater-Kinney fan.
Sleater-Kinney is deserving of an engaged audience, an audience that wants to be moved and inspired by their music. Yes, I can like them a lot and I do. Their show at the Metro was impressive, but I felt like I was missing something. Sleater-Kinney is a high-energy band, with power chords in abundance, more powerful vocals, intelligent lyrics, and catchy hooks. But so are a lot of other bands—it’s not just those qualities that make a band great. Sleater-Kinney is a rarity because they’re more than all those things. They have a following, and with this group of fans the band has another level of discourse and meaning. This is a powerful ability, to affect people this deeply, to be so life-changing-ly important. I saw that Friday and I was impressed.
I hope you indie kids who were at the shows Thursday and Friday realize how lucky you are.