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Corin Tucker Band @ Cactus Club

Sept. 14, 2012

Sep. 17, 2012
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It’s a question on the mind of almost every music lover that has listened to Corin Tucker’s latest musical project, Corin Tucker Band: How do you move on from such an important band like Sleater-Kinney? For some of the band’s members, the transition has proven remarkably fruitful. Guitarist/vocalist Carrie Brownstein has found a new audience and an even greater level of exposure, partnering with Fred Armisen on the hipster comedy show “Portlandia.” Brownstein has also achieved success with Wild Flag, her super-group of sorts with fellow ex-Sleater-Kinney member Janet Weiss and former Helium front woman Mary Timony.

The post-Sleater-Kinney landscape has been a bit rockier for Tucker, as evident by the relatively sparse turnout for her Friday night show at the Cactus Club. And Tucker looked tired as she took to the stage, with a demeanor that suggested she belonged in front of a crowd, but that she wasn’t quite sure exactly why. This was not too surprising, as the same dilemma informed the band’s first recorded offering as well. 2010’s 1,000 Years found Tucker understandably wanting to move on after the end of Sleater-Kinney. Many of the songs on the album featured sparse arrangements, with Tucker’s signature yelp traded in for a breathless whisper. Any atmosphere created by such a move, however, was offset by the feeling that Tucker was holding back the emotions that had made her such a dynamic performer.

Live, this feeling was only exacerbated. Songs from 1,000 Years like “Half a World Away” sounded too quiet and restrained. They also seemingly did little to excite Tucker. As she sang “I’m half a world away from you,” she both looked and sounded like she wanted to be on that other side of the globe. But Tucker’s crack band, anchored by the martial drumming of Sara Lund (from the woefully underrated Unwound) breathed much-needed life into such understated material.

Yet Tucker approached the band’s latest material with a ferocity that rivaled anything she did during her Sleater-Kinney days. Songs like “Groundhog Day” and “Neskowin,” from the band’s recently released Kill My Blues, allowed Tucker to once again belt it out with force and conviction. And she came alive during these numbers, smiling and jumping around in blissful abandon. “I’ve just woken up,” Tucker sang on “Groundhog Dog,” “Like Rip Van Winkle in a denim mini-skirt.” For a moment, the description fit Tucker to a tee.


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