A last-minute venue change because of the threat of a Category 3 hurricane couldn’t stop crowds from packing The Ritz last night for Kurt Vile and Sleater-Kinney. There was relentless rain, Uber surge prices, and $9 PBR tallboys. Nevertheless, Hopscotch persisted.
We rolled up to The Ritz late (thanks, canned Lambrusco) and wedged in near the sound booth as flannel-wear bros were already swaying to Kurt Vile’s assortment of moody outlaw indie rock. The lackadaisical drawl of “Pretty Pimpin’,” with its sprawling riff, immediately hooked me.
During the set break, I sauntered outside to the smoking section, where the biblical level of rain served as a sign that I should probably quit. A group of punk chicks scolded me for not arriving early enough (sorry, Lambrusco), to catch the set of twenty-year-old indie rock prodigy Lindsey Jordan, who performs as Snail Mail. According to them, Kurt Vile was a snoozefest compared to Snail Mail.
I didn’t have too much time to bemoan this admission, though, before Sleater-Kinney, with Carrie Brownstein in trim leather shorts, blasted on stage, wooing the bustling crowd with tracks from their new album, The Center Won’t Hold. Notably, it was the first performance since drummer Janet Weiss left the band and the debut of new drummer, Angie Boylan, formerly of Freezing Cold, who didn’t seem to miss a beat.
Brownstein whipped her guitar around recklessly, high-kicking my worries away, and “Can I Go On” made me forget how much my feet hurt. Sleater-Kinney seemed to really be enjoying themselves and digging the crowd, with Brownstein pacing the stage but continually gravitating back to Corin Tucker. An on-stage hug filled in a gap often not found in sad-boy rock.
By the time they wrapped, I had enough energy to wander to Slim’s (obviously, not before grabbing a slice of pizza) where NYC-based A Place to Bury Strangers vaporized my remaining brain cells with their deafening brand of shoegaze. It was after midnight before they took the stage. There was a line out of the door, and everyone was wet from the rain and sweating. Guitarist Oliver Ackerman swung a strobe light over his head like a lasso as drummer Lia Braswell jackhammered the drums. Crammed like sardines, we all melted together into the wall of sound.