Local Current Blog

Sleater-Kinney and Lizzo share the love with searing Valentine’s Day show at First Avenue

Photos by Steven Cohen for MPR, except set list photo by Hannah Hron

In August 2006, Sleater-­Kinney performed their last show, in Portland, before taking a seemingly indefinite hiatus. In August 2006, Barack Obama was not yet a household name. Besides Saturday Night Live, Fred Armisen’s most prominent role was probably that of Tino the nightclub owner from Anchorman, with Portlandia still a half-decade from its premiere. I was going into sixth grade.

Sleater­-Kinney walked into an entirely different world when they abruptly released new material last fall and booked a tour that included a stop at First Avenue on Valentine’s Day. But they have fully embraced it, booking an excellent opener who’s a familiar face at First Ave: Lizzo. Those of us who survived the hiatus should be extra­thankful that we now live in a time where a female Minnesotan rapper can open up for the reunited Sleater-Kinney.

Shannon Blowtorch and Sophia Eris, who DJ together as TAWST, were billed as first openers; with the addition of Manchita and Quinn Wilson, it turned into a full-on GRRRL PRTY. Taking the stage, Lizzo quickly informed us that a GRRRL PRTY performance is our hometown treat; the other stops on the tour won’t be so lucky. The audience, which included some graying fans in addition to plenty of younger people, were a bit hesitant at first, but any hesitation melted away completely within a few songs as Lizzo enchanted with her charisma and musical talent while also making the observation that “I’m a feminist, and I’m also a humanist.” She said that she believes in the value of every human life, affirming that “black lives matter.”

“New song alert!” chimed Lizzo near the end of her set, treating First Avenue to previously unheard material. Also, she donned matching Glam Doll aprons with Sophia Eris and surprise guest Lori Barbero, who has been busy with the reunited Babes in Toyland. “Batches & Cookies” came complete with actual cookies being tossed to the eager arms of the audience by the apron-clad trio.

“Sleater­-Kinney is up next” is still a slightly surreal sentence to absorb in 2015. After an introduction by The Current’s Jade, Corin Tucker, Janet Weiss, and Carrie Brownstein took to the stage with little fanfare and quickly picked up their instruments. The music was so loud that dormant confetti from a long­-ago concert continuously fell from the ceiling, the building itself seeming to celebrate Sleater-Kinney’s return.

“We’ve never played a place as much as First Avenue,” Carrie quipped before adding, “…don’t quote me on that.” Recent cuts “Surface Envy,” “No Cities to Love,” and “Bury Our Friends” still felt as home in the set as older material such as “Get Up,” “Good Things” (which they dedicated to the lovers in the audience), and “Modern Girl,” featuring Weiss on harmonica.

Sleater­-Kinney’s feminist agenda was also clear. They urged the audience to love themselves in honor of Valentine’s Day, then took the time to thank Planned Parenthood for joining them on tour. “We’re tired of asking for these things,” Corin stated bluntly while stressing the importance of women’s access to reproductive healthcare. She was met with enthusiastic cheers.

We welcomed these hard-rocking women into our lives as our 2015 Valentine’s Day dates, and they didn’t disappoint. It was unlikely that there was anyplace else in the Twin Cities—maybe even in the country—that could rival the open display of pure love happening in the Mainroom on Saturday night.

Hannah Hron is a student at Hamline University. Watch for Andrea Swensson’s interview with Sleater-Kinney, to be published on our website soon.

Lizzo and GRRRL PRTY