Last month Sleater-Kinney declared that, after its summmer tour, the band dubbed the best in the world by rock über-critic Greil Marcus in Esquire is not likely to record or perform together again. The reasons for the 11-year-old band's demise remain a mystery; the trio has chosen not to do interviews. But S-K's fans are talking.
In a Willamette Week cover story published four years ago, former music editor Zach Dundas described meeting some of Sleater-Kinney's most diehard fans at a show at the Aladdin Theater just after the release of One Beat ("The Best Portland Band...EVER?," July 31, 2002). WW tracked down two of the fans Dundas interviewed for his story four years ago, 24-year-old Kevin Chan and 36-year-old Janice Ordal, the latter of whom teared up as the pair offered their thoughts on the band's end.
Ordal became acquainted with guitarist/vocalist Corin Tucker when, after briefly meeting her at a show and then discussing motherhood, she showed up pregnant with her second child to be an extra in an S-K video shoot. They've been in occasional contact, and, although Tucker put her on the guest list, Ordal admits she's "so anal, freaky and paranoid that I still waited in line for eight hours to get tickets." Ordal has seen S-K more than 30 times and followed them on an East Coast tour. Sitting in Southwest Portland's Half & Half coffee shop, she asks Chan, who isn't going to the show because he will be on a family trip to Hong Kong and Vietnam, "Have you listened to them in the last couple of weeks? When I listen to them, I didn't think I was going to be that sad, but I'm so sad, and I'm so glad I can be there for a goodbye."
But Chan has already said his goodbyes. As a teenager, he briefly traded letters and books with vocalist/guitarist Carrie Brownstein, an experience that, along with the band's music, got him hooked on indie culture and introduced him to feminism. But shortly after he was interviewed for the WW cover story, his interest in the band faded. The trio's last album, The Woods, however, got his attention again, and he saw them for the first time in years last winter. "I could stand at the back and enjoy myself," he says. "I didn't have to be in the front left where Carrie stands."
Both Chan and Ordal think it's somewhat likely that Sleater-Kinney will perform some occasional local shows in the future, much like what has become an almost annual reunion tradition for another notable band of Portland's past, Hazel. However both think it's unlikely they'll record again.
Do they feel jilted by the abrupt and imminent ending? "It would be so pathetic if we did," says Ordal. But her eyes become glossy and her voice chokes up as she continues: "It's the end of something that I loved. I don't care that they're done, because it's their prerogative; it's just sad. It's like your best friend leaving. I'm totally supportive, but it's just a sad thing."
Adds Chan, "To me, what it really signified was the end of my youth. They meant so much to me, and I still really, really love them, but they don't define anything for me—it's just really great music."
Sleater-Kinney will play its final two shows ever (?) Friday and Saturday, Aug. 11-12, at the Crystal Ballroom. Both shows 9 pm. SOLD OUT. All ages.