Beer and Pavement

An Open Letter to Sleater-Kinney

Posted in An Open Letter, Records by SM on October 23, 2014

IMG_4735

Dear Sleater-Kinney,

So, you’re back. Like several of my favorite nineties’ bands – Pavement, Archers of Loaf, Jon Spencer Blues Explosion, etc. – you took some time off from each other for other projects, but you’re back. And we’re all so happy.

I remember the day I found out your were no more. It was in Hawaii on the Molokai. I had on my t-shirt from the All Hands on the Bad One tour, browsing the aisles at the only grocery store when another tourist stopped me to say that you had broken up. “Hiatus” would have been a better descriptor, but the news hit me just as hard either way. All the bands of my youth were nearly gone, causing me to fear for more than just my record collection.

Either way, I don’t want this letter to be about my relationship with your career and output. Rather, I want to celebrate the fact that you are back and to make a request.

In terms of reunions or coming out of hiatus, you all did it right. First, there was the little surprise of the box set. I preordered mine instantly and it was totally worth it. The packaging and accompanying book is beautiful. I don’t have all of your albums on vinyl until now and they’re all colored, 180-gram vinyl to boot! In terms of remastering, from what I’ve had a chance to hear, this too was done the right way. Instead of just turning everything up, many tracks were balanced out and the effects of cheap recording sessions is wiped out with a professional’s expert hand.

Of course, the coup de gras was the 7″ with the new song “Bury Our Friends” which is huge track filled to the brim with power and emotion. This new song – the first in 9 years – is how you announce your return. No fanfare. No announcement. “Let’s just toss a new 7″ into our retrospective box set for shits and giggles!” And of course there will be a tour and a new album – January 20th according to the 7″.

You are doing it right, friends. Most bands wait until they need the cash to get back together. Most bands don’t release new music. Most bands overdue their own box sets with loads of rarities (read: “junk not good enough to release the first time”) or completely over-produced versions of the originals. But not Sleater-Kinney. This is how a band gets back together. This is the blueprint from now one.

Now for the request.

You are one of my six-year-old’s favorite bands. Sure, that list includes Katy Perry, Taylor Swift, and Kidz Bop, but it also includes anything Kathleen Hanna touches, Wild Flag, and Blondie. She needs to see a live Sleater-Kinney performance and I can’t really drive/fly her on a school night to Chicago or Omaha. It would be ideal if Sleater-Kinney finds their way to Columbia, Missouri. (Of course, I would settle for STL or KC.)

In the spirit of transparency (and in case it wasn’t already clear), I am a huge Sleater-Kinney fan. I too would benefit from your band stopping in Middle Missouri. I won’t front.

We have a nice venue in the Blue Note who just hired two women as manager and assistant manager. There’s Pizza Tree and their bánh mì pizza(!) or baked goods, records, films (on the screen or to go), and drinks in the Uprise/Ragtag complex on Hitt Street. There’s vegetarian at Main Squeeze and two doughnut places by the time you would arrive. I can tell you more, just write back with requests.

In closing, I wish you the best of luck with the record and tour. It’s great to have one of the greatest rock bands of my life back at it – especially one my kid likes. I hope you find it in your heart of hearts to stop in COMO. It’s worth the stop.

Best,

Zac

P.S. – Will the whole band make an appearance on Portlandia next season?

P.P.S. – Will Pearl Jam open for you? I don’t really care if I see Pearl Jam. I just think it’s fair that they support you since you supported them the last time you were out.

P.P.P.S. – Carrie and Janet, my daughter wrote a letter to Wild Flag a while back. Are you planning on responding? She wrote one to Kathleen Hanna and Hanna wrote back. Just saying.

An Open Letter to Archers of Loaf

Posted in An Open Letter, Life by SM on June 28, 2011

I found this nice picture of you. I clipped it from that Vulture piece you did.

Dear Loaf,

It’s been a long time, my old friend. I’ve missed you very much. It seems that you’ve only had time for a few of us, so I’ll make this brief.

I saw you on the television this past week. You guys sounded great, making me yearn for those years past when we used to meet up at Stache’s (twice), the Euclid Tavern, or that shitty metal club in suburban Cincinnati. Those were some good times. You tore up tiny stages and dealt with rowdy punks. You flirted with the devil and chose the higher ground. In my mind, you were kindred spirits with those of us trying to find our way through college with our blue-collar backgrounds[1].

Then, you broke up sometime in the last century. At first, I was hurt, but as new projects emerged, some of that void was filled[2] and I eventually found other music to distract me. Still, I often returned to the material from those glory days and remembered our time together with great fondness.

And as the years passed, several of your contemporaries decided to give it another try, often reaping the benefits of nostalgia. Yet, Archers of Loaf stayed away, never even hinting at a reunion. I was okay with this as I figured you all had better things to do with your time. Also, I’ve had plenty of opportunities to get in touch with my lost youth. Your slot would just have to remain empty.

Then, you did it. Without saying a word, you showed your face in your old stomping grounds[3]. There were whispers and rumors and then a summer festival. It looked like Pavement all over again. However, this was different. I saw you before I ever saw Pavement[4]. This was a longer time coming for sure.

As dates for your reunion were announced, I grew disheartened. The closest you would come to my home would be Chicago and that was the same weekend as anniversary of my marital union. There was no way I’d get to see you again. My dreams and hopes of us getting back together were shattered.

The strange thing is that as I watched you play for Jimmy Fallon[5], a peace grew within me. It became clear that you did this reunion thing right even if you didn’t come within 130 miles of my home. You didn’t record any new music in a half-assed manner just to cash in on the Loaf nostalgia. You didn’t play every summer festival or late night variety show in hopes of big money. You’re not releasing some ungettable box set on a major label. Nope. All you’ve done is play a tour much like the ones you played back when I knew you in support of the reissues of your catalog as put out by long-time friends Merge Records[6]. That’s reuniting the right way.

So, as you wrap up this summer tour and sail off into indie rock history for the second time, feel comfortable in the fact that you did the indie rock nostalgia trip the way Baby Jesus would have wanted. I hold no ill feelings and wish all of you the best in your future endeavors.

Best,

Zac

Notes:
1I don’t even know that this was true. It’s probably not a fair label, but Archers of Loaf appealed to that part of me. Many of the friends who held a similar appreciation for the band had similar backgrounds. Loaf was direct, to the point, and seemed to speak for the blue-collar ethos both lyrically and aesthetically.
2The Crooked Fingers material was very different, but once you saw the live show, you still felt that Archers of Loaf urgency.
3Cat’s Cradle.
4Weeks in fact.
5Does Jimmy Fallon even own an Archers of Loaf record? Did he know who they are/were? Maybe I’m underestimating Fallon, but I doubt it.
6Of course, judging by Arcade Fire’s sales numbers, Loaf could still reap some benefits.

Tagged with: