I’m not sure I had ever heard a song by Sleater-Kinney, but that has never stopped me reading about Rock Music. I find the topic infinitely fascinating. The band was big in the 1990s and was lumped in with the Riot Grrrl scene. I caught the beginning of that scene with L7, but didn’t pursue it any further.
Carrie Brownstein pops up on my radar when I started watching “Portlandia” on TV. I love the weirdness and appreciate the writing. Her writing in the book is equally good. One of the best Rock Biographies I’ve read so far. Brownstein takes you along for a musical journey: How Carrie and Corin Tucker built the band and became minor rock stars when Janet Weiss took over on drums.
As a post-script Sleater-Kinney reunited in 2014 and released “No Cities to Love“. While reading the book, I was listening to some of their music, especially their live work, as so much of the book takes place on tour. I found a very good concert on YouTube.com, recorded 2/23/2015 in Washington, D.C at the 9:30 Club.
Excerpts From My Kindle
Now I can’t listen to some of these records alone, in my house that I have cleaned and organized, books arranged just so, sheets washed. The sounds don’t hold up. In these cases, fandom is contextual and experiential: it’s not that it happened, it’s that you were there. It’s site-specific, age-specific. Being a fan has to do with the surroundings, and to divorce the sounds from that context often feels distancing, disorienting, but mostly disappointing. I think of all the times I’ve had a friend over and pulled out records from high school or college, ready for the album to change someone’s life the way it changed mine. I watch my friend’s face, waiting eagerly for the “aha!” moment to arrive, only to realize that my affection for this intentionally off-key singing, saggy bass sound, and lyrics about bunnies isn’t quite the revelation it was fifteen years ago. “You had to be there” is not always a gloat or admonishment–often it’s an explanation for why something sounds utterly terrible. Yet there is much music that survives de- and recontextualization and that needs no experiential reference point. In this case, the role of the fan is still to be a participant, and to participate is to grant yourself permission to immerse, to willingly, gladly, efface and subsume yourself for the sake of the larger meaning but also to provide meaning. It’s symbiotic. My favorite kind of musical experience is to feel afterward that your heart is filled up and transformed, like it is pumping a whole new kind of blood into your veins. This is what it is to be a fan: curious, open, desiring for connection, to feel like art has chosen you, claimed you as its witness. – location 83-94