Last Thursday's Sleater-Kinney show at the Corner was nothing less than rock as it should be. Janet showed further evidence of being one of the best drummers in the biz while Carrie performed some great windmills and Corin hit all the tough notes while screaming earnestly.
While the songs from the latest album, The Woods, translated perfectly live and gave the band a chance to show off their segue skills with some great stadium-rock style improvised moments, a few more songs from their back catalogue wouldn't have gone astray.
Still, as good as Sleater-Kinney are live and on record, one of the great things about seeing a band live is getting a chance to check out the support band. I don't see as much live music as I used to and as a result I miss out on discovering all the new bands who maybe haven't made it to radio. Sometimes these bands disapeared into nothing, like The Silver Surfers did, and sometimes they make it huge and support Supergrass on a European tour, like Rocket Science did. There was something to be said for taking that small risk and forking over ten bucks for a local pub show. I just don't have it in me any more. Maybe I've just become the old, grumpy, hard-to-impress man I never thought I'd be.
Anyway, new bands for me are now relegated to the support acts for those touring. Still, I've discovered a number of my favourites by getting to a gig early. In 1994 Magic Dirt supported the Smashing Pumkins and in 1998 The Avalanches came across my radar as the first support for JSBX (they were followed on stage by Kim Salmon who, as good as he is, could never compete with what I had just witnessed). These are the sorts of acts that make you want to go out the next day and get their EP and play it 5 times in a row. I remember that the Avalanches didn't even have an EP, just a 7-inch. I bought it even though I didn't have a turntable at the time.
I walked into the band-room at the Corner just as The Grates started their set for the night. I didn't realise until their last song that they were responsible for Message, one of my favourite songs off radio over the last couple of months. That lack of realisation, however, didn't stop me recognising almost instantly that they have what it takes to get into the members only nightclub of my CD collection. They were simply amazing. They're touring the UK from next week. If you get a chance there should be no question about checking them out.
**Thanks to Adrian for convincing me to go along early and also for one of the best birthday presents a friend could give. You rock 100%!