by Jasmine Bourgeois
Sleater-Kinney was my favorite band as a teenager. They introduced me to riot grrrl music and were my go-to angsty band as a young girl trying to play music and figure myself out. Live recordings are a mark in music history, and having a band that was seminal in not only the indie music scene, but whose music encouraged girls to take up space, be loud, and be angry, to be recognized in this way is stellar.
The songs of Live In Paris are all ones Sleater-Kinney fans know and love, with tunes from almost all of their albums, but hearing them recorded live brings a different energy. We hear the surge of applause before and after every track, we hear how their voices have changed since their first record, and we can feel the way their raw energy and sharp sounds have strengthened over the years. Their harmonies sound more intentional in songs like “Oh!” and “Dig Me Out.” The ritardando in “What’s Mine is Yours” is spine quivering in the best way. Their passion is as palpable and contagious as it’s always been, and hearing them play makes you want to make noise, bang on shit, and jump around.
This album was released just one week after the inauguration of 45 — a schismatic moment in history. That night in Paris, Sleater-Kinney was playing old noise for new times, asking the same questions we’ve always been asking: How do we translate emotions and energy? How do we change, grow, and navigate? How do we use and share space amidst so many other people who are disconnected and dissimilar in so many ways? There aren’t easy answers, but there’s something profound in the relief that music can bring. This isn’t just a live record, but a testament to the way ardent sounds can heal and energize thousands of strangers both in the crowd and around the globe.