When Sleater-Kinney filed onto the stage at Martin Woldson Theater at the Fox on Wednesday night, the Olympia-born band made a simple request to the audience before a single note was played: Get out of your seats and fill up the first four rows.
Once fans were spilling over the side of the stage, the group roared to life with “The Center Won’t Hold,” a paranoid meditation and title track from its latest album that escalates into a wall of wailing vocals, distorted guitars and concisely cutting lyricism.
In other words, Sleater-Kinney hasn’t forgotten what’s made it one of music’s most influential and endearing indie rock bands to survive the 1990s. And Wednesday’s audience proved that the fans haven’t forgotten, either.
The 24-song set drew heavily from the 2015 album “No Cities to Love” and featured all but two tracks from this year’s St. Vincent-produced “The Center Won’t Hold.”
Since the band’s last stop in Spokane put a 10-year hiatus to rest with a show at the Knitting Factory in 2015, the twin-guitar battery of vocalists/guitarists Corrin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein have shed S-K’s trio in favor of a five-piece combo that rounds out the new album’s sonic landscapes and makes up for the departure of longtime drummer Janet Weiss.
Brownstein and Tucker swapped vocal duties throughout the night, with the former handling most of the frantic and dexterous lead guitar lines.
The slinky riffing of “Modern Girl” and “Jumpers” offered classic counterweights to the newer material like “Animal” and infectious bounce of “Can I Go On,” all of which displayed the band’s feminist foundations with a lyrical bite fierce enough to match its sound.
Still, it was 1997’s “Dig Me Out” that was reserved as the closing number and bookmarked a setlist that’s as much about affirming the unit’s status as one of the great American rock bands while also showcasing the latest artistic venture of a group brave enough to fail and emerge as masters of their genre.
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