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Bridget's Story: She waited 5 years to see them

I couldn’t have been more excited about the reunion of Sleater-Kinney. I bought my ticket for their March 1 show at Stage AE in Pittsburgh immediately (with barely enough cash in my bank account to cover it, I may add) knowing it would be sold out within the month.

It was. There was a line forming when I pulled up to the venue at 5:30 p.m. and the doors didn’t open until 7 p.m. The weather was terrible- a typical late winter in Pittsburgh combination of snow, sleet, freezing rain, and mud. I stopped across the street for a beer at Rivertowne to stay warm before joining the line. I ended up waiting outside for 45 minutes before the doors opened. My feet were frozen and my trendy rocker jacket was ruined by the rain. Such a waste of perfectly straight hair, only to be turned into a bushy mane of icicle dreadlocks. All I kept thinking was “Damn, I hope Sleater-Kinney doesn’t hate Pittsburgh after this. I promise, it’s beautiful in like 2 months!”

When I finally got inside, I went straight to the merch table, having never seen one with no line. I wanted to buy an LP of my favorite album, “Dig Me Out.” But, before I made my purchase, I got tipped off by a fellow SK nerd that the band signs a bunch of copies of the “No Cities to Love” LP before the show so I should wait to get one of those. I followed his advice. I got another beer, talked to a Planned Parenthood Representative and went straight to stage left, knowing that’s Carrie Brownstein’s side of the stage when she plays with Sleater-Kinney. I had a fan letter for her in my pocket and was hoping to get close enough to deliver it.

The opening act was a female rapper named Lizzo. Not the act you would expect to open for Sleater-Kinney at first, but by the end of her set it totally made sense. Lizzo is a tall, loud, boisterous woman that made a room of 2,400 strangers feel like they were her best friend. Her act was perfect to amp up the crowd for Sleater-Kinney and remind us how important their music is to female empowerment. On top of that, her set KILLED. I found myself, and many others, singing along to “Batches & Cookies,” even though I had never heard her music before that night. I noticed Janet Weiss standing in the right wing of the stage singing along with the rest of us. She was there the whole set rocking her head to the music and checking different equipment.

Tragedy struck during the intermission when I realized I needed to use the restroom. I was about three rows of people back from the stage. When I turned around and saw the mass of fans behind me, I honestly considered wetting myself for the sake of Sleater-Kinney. Human decency got the best of me and I made my way to the bathroom. When I returned, somehow the crowd got bigger and I cursed myself for having a bladder. I ran into a friend that encouraged me to push my way back to where I was. I usually would never do that and hate people that do that at concerts. But I had waited; not only that night, but since the two months before when I bought the ticket. And that’s not counting the past five years I’d been listening to Sleater-Kinney and had been depressed that I’d never see them play. So, I pushed my way up, to the groans of everyone else. Luckily, the guy I was standing next to before saw me coming back, pretended we knew each other and pulled me towards him. Thank you, kind stranger.

The lights dimmed and Sleater-Kinney took the stage. They were joined by their new touring fourth member, Katie Harkin, playing backup guitar, keyboard, and additional percussion. It was magical. They played a great mix of old hits from their first seven albums and most of “No Cities to Love.” Carrie Brownstein was, as usual, all over the stage jumping off the drum stand, leaning on Corin Tucker, and playing on the floor.

The band came out for an encore and Tucker lost the guitar. She made a beautiful speech about why female empowerment is still relevant and encouraged everyone to speak with the representatives from Planned Parenthood there that night. Katie Harkin took over her guitar parts as they performed “Gimme Love,” during which Tucker fell to the floor of the stage and sang to the crowd from her knees. They left the stage with the crowd on fire and the house lights came on.

I made my way back to the merch table to get my signed LP, though this time it was swarmed with people waiting for t-shirts. I decided to wait to the side and try to sneak my way in. “Excuse me,” there was a tap on my shoulder and I moved aside for JANET WEISS to make her way to the table. Less than twenty minutes after she played an hour and a half set of fast drumming, she threw on her glasses, got behind the merch table, and started selling t-shirts with the rest of the team, pausing only to sign a couple autographs while she asked what size people wanted. Her dedication to the tour blew me away. Here’s an artist that actually cares. Sadly, I never got my fan letter to Carrie Brownstein, but I did get to buy a signed LP of “No Cities to Love” that I kept under my shirt to protect it from the rain on the way to my car. For a week after, I couldn’t get the smile off my face. Then, NPR: Front Row released an online video of Sleater-Kinney’s entire Washington, DC show from the night before the Pittsburgh show. I get to relive that show again and again. Corin Tucker is even wearing the same dress.

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