[IWTAS EXCLUSIVE] Listen to Soundboard Recordings of Sleater-Kinney’s First Two St. Louis Shows

Jim's Tapes

What follows is two soundboard recordings of Sleater-Kinney‘s very first shows in St. Louis, MO. They were created by and exist here courtesy of Jim Utz, Marketing and Promotions Director of Vintage Vinyl since 1990 and royal denizen of live music in our city and beyond. Jim’s friend Steve Brothers edited, tracked, and generally finessed the 1990s audio to ease and inform your listening experience. We are so grateful to both of them for sharing these pieces of rock history. 

Sleater-Kinney Band Photo
Sleater-Kinney plays The Pageant on April 24th.

by Jim Utz

Sleater-Kinney is celebrating a return to the top of indie rockdom this year with their stellar No Cities To Love album and a cross-country, sold-out tour that stops at The Pageant this month. The upcoming show will happen almost 18 years since the band first played St. Louis at the Side Door on May 7, 1997.

I remember my anticipation for the Side Door show being high. Aside from SK having released two of my favorite rock records of that time within a 13 month span(!!!), Call the Doctor in March ’96 and Dig Me Out in April ’97, I hadn’t seen Corin Tucker and Carrie Brownstein perform since their previous bands, Heavens To Betsy and Excuse 17, played together in Columbia, MO at The Fusebox three years prior in July 1994. Plus I’d never seen drummer Janet Weiss perform. Not only was I fortunate enough to help promote the Side Door show since I was working for Mine! Productions’ Marla Hare (later Griffin), but I was also deep into live taping and tape trading culture, so I planned on recording their debut stop in town and eventually sharing it with anyone who wanted to hear it.

The thing I remember most about this show was that I wanted to be up close, but my DAT recorder would be in back at the soundboard, so I needed to enlist someone to hit ‘record’ for me and to monitor the deck sound levels. A friend offered to start the recording for me while I moved to the front. The band opened up with an intro that seemed more designed to give a quick, live, full-room soundcheck than a first song before they broke into what was (and still is) my favorite Sleater-Kinney song, “Turn It On”. I distinctly recall getting goose bumps from the first two Janet Weiss snare cracks that usher in “Turn it On” and knew immediately that it would be the last time Marla would book the band in a room that small. Sleater-Kinney wasn’t going to be ‘zine culture’s secret much longer — the songs were too good, the performances too urgent, the presence too big, and the near capacity crowd’s energy too rabid.

Sleater Kinney Galaxy 98

The next time SK came to town seventeen months later (October 21,1998), Marla booked them at Galaxy with fellow rising Northwest bands Built To Spill and 764-HERO; I brought my recorder with me again. I remember the show being near capacity again, the band having doubled their audience in under a year and a half. The members of Sleater-Kinney were bona fide “indie stars” now, and their performance and presence was that of a band who knew how good they were, with crowds providing more and more validation of that fact each night. This show, while not benefiting from “first time seeing them” anticipation for me, was still an exciting one for many reasons: the biggest being that the show ended up featuring six (at the time) unreleased songs that would eventually come out four months later on the band’s The Hot Rock album.

For the last song of the evening, Sleater-Kinney invited the members of both opening acts on stage for a “jam” which ended up being fascinating as the tune sounded more Built To Spill-ish in pace and movement. But the trademark SK guitar-weaving was present over the mountainous grooves they were creating with Corin singing free-form over the top of it all. My last memory of the ’98 Galaxy show was all of the band members waving goodbye from the stage as the Galaxy lights kicked on. I quickly packed up my recording gear so I could race out of the venue and up the street two blocks to see a late show at Fuel, which was featuring the Mo’ Wax tour with DJ Shadow, Blackalicous and Latryx.

Sleater-Kinney is Corin Tucker, Carrie Brownstein, and Janet Weiss. The return to St. Louis on April 24th, 2015 at The Pageant with THEESatisfaction, and with Bruiser Queen at The Halo Bar directly after the show.

 

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