Enraged and In Love

Sleater-Kinney and the dichotomies of rock & roll

And, still, Sleater-Kinney complicate themselves. "For women," says Tucker, "desire and sexuality are tied to so many other things, you can't separate it and be like, 'This is what I want, and I'm gonna go for it.' It's just not that simple." What she means, I think, is that, having been trapped and diminished in the defining gaze of a male tradition, these three women are not eager to overwhelm anyone else with their own prescriptive lust. They know the power they have over that listener in her bedroom; they've been there. And so, increasingly, their songs kick you out of their flow, insist that you recognize your part in their glamor, request you take responsibility for your stuff. It feels scary. But by respecting your freedom, they maintain theirs. And that is so not rock & roll, and that is so totally rock & roll.

Sleater-Kinney onstage at the Moore raising spirits, with an audience now. Down in front, where there are no seats, people crowd in, sing along, watch intently. A couple male faces light up with grins as Brownstein pulls off her patented slomo side kick. No one looks uncomfortable, exactly. I slip back to where the Jon Spencer fans lounge in their seats and face into a shuddering version of "Turn It On," Brownstein dancing and Weiss laughing to make up for Tucker's straining voice; this time, Brownstein falls over into Tucker's mic stand, then gets up and dedicates the move to Eddie Vedder.

"Can I be in your band?" pipes up a voice. "Hmmm," Tucker reflects, "Do you wanna be our dancer?" The guy nods furiously and crawls up to Tucker's left. "This song is called 'Little Babies,'" she says to the audience. "It's about you." The dancer is loose-limbed and fast, and he gets so excited by the "dum dum dee dee dee"s, he starts break-dancing. People get out of their seats to see. "Rock the little babies with one-two-three-four!" the band taunts. Not taunting, exactly. Three songs later, the band exits and the dancer crawls back in the crowd. "Well," a burly guy announces nervously to all of us in the back rows, "that was quite an opener!" And he stretches like he's been working against some great force.

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