Words & Photos by Scott Murry
For many, the late August evening on Boston’s waterfront to watch Sleater Kinney and Wilco perform was a transcendent occasion. This is not solely because the heat and humidity were perhaps causing dehydrated hallucinations. For many, this night was their first live show “back” since the pandemic locked everything down nearly 18 months ago. Under an array of brilliant, bright lights, the crowd’s faces were basking in the glow of it all. Continuing to take precaution with masks while outdoors, embracing music felt more right than ever before.
Sleater Kinney took the stage after opener Nnamdï (So bummed I missed your set), to give their love right back to the audience. Lead guitarist/singer/hilarious person Carrie Brownstein professed how much being able to perform live meant to the band, noting the unique flow of energy and celebration felt all around was missed dearly. Her words rang sincere through jubilant smiles and a playful swagger that they all moved about the stage with. She further thanked the videographers streaming their set to screen for capturing their “wet dog” portion of the set. (Celebrities … they sweat just like us!)
Their set contained a broad range of excellent tracks from their recent release Path of Wellness. Hearing lead singer/guitarist Corin Tucker’s powerful vibrato across these songs put everyone under a spell. It’s an incredible voice that felt so good to hear live. Did I tear up a little bit during this set? Yes, yes of course I did. This band is tight, talented, and perform an uplifting set. During “What’s Mine is Yours” from 2005’s The Woods, Tucker’s voice paired with lights snapping to a rapid beat created a pinnacle that was beautifully disorienting.
Wilco performed to close the night out. As lead man Jeff Tweedy took the stage with a full band, the outdoor pavilion swelled with cheers. The massive outpouring of gratitude was another pivotal moment in the evening. Though the pandemic isn’t fully over, there was a collective release—a battle cry indicating claim of partial victory to get here. Wilco jumped all over their 24 year discography, hitting 10 out of 11 albums (sorry you didn’t make the cut 1996’s Being There). As an added treat, the first song of their three track encore was “Honky Tonk Women” by the Rolling Stones. Corin Tucker of Sleater Kinney returned to the stage to perform alongsie Wilco as an ode to the Stones’ longtime drummer, Charlie Watts, whom passed earlier in the day.
Health Advisory from the author: Please get vaxxed and remain masked up until we can all put the Corona virus behind us. Live music is too good to not have in our lives!