The Corin Tucker Band Debuts in Hometown Portland

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Corin Tucker / Photo by Nilina Mason-Campbell
WRITTEN BY
Mark Lore

It's only appropriate that Corin Tucker and her band kicked off their West Coast tour Thursday night on her home turf surrounded by fans, family and friends, including Tucker's Sleater-Kinney bandmates. It was nothing but love inside the cozy confines of Portland's Aladdin Theatre-of course, it's been a longtime coming.

The vocalist-guitarist has kept the lowest profile of the trio since Sleater-Kinney went on hiatus in 2006 (a spell that feels much longer than four years). While drummer Janet Weiss has remained busy in the Jicks and Quasi, and Carrie Brownstein as a music blogger and budding actress, Tucker has quietly been raising a family.

But the primal urge to rock has proven too strong. Her solo debut, 1,000 Years, takes the clang and bang of her former band and slathers it with all sorts of new textures and sounds, including strings and keyboards. As Tucker put it in a recent interview: "It's definitely more of a middle-aged mom record." The lyrics may be more introspective, but fear not-the music still bulldozes, and her vocals can still rattle windows.

Opening the show was Portland's the Golden Bears, a band that figures prominently into the Corin Tucker story. 1,000 Years was recorded at the home of Golden Bears members Seth Lorinczi and Julianna Bright, who took the stage in matching white. "I've been admiring Pete Townshend's jumpsuit for a long time," Bright quipped, referring to her snazzy one-piece. The endearingly square Golden Bears-who will join Tucker and her band on their upcoming dates-were no slouches, either, blasting through a set of power-pop tunes steeped in Riot Grrrl sweat.

Lorinczi and Bright weren't finished for the night with the close of their set. The two would remain (Lornczi also played guitar and keyboards on 1,000 Years) as Tucker and her crew, which includes Unwound drummer Sara Lund, took the stage.

"This song is for you, Portland," Tucker said softly before kicking things off with the apropos "Thrift Store Coats." It's a refrain she would repeat again toward the end of the show.

Tucker appropriately looked more motherrrly than riot grrrly, wearing a vintage knee-length dress with brown ankle-high boots. Glitter sparkled on her porcelain complexion. But the sound that came from her guitar was from another time, familiarly wiry and fuzzy. "Handed Love" and "Big Goodbye" came closest to The Woods-era Sleater-Kinney, while "Pulling Pieces" sounded like a lost Who track. Throw in a terrific cover of "It's Obvious" by Birmingham post-punk band The Au Pairs and it could have been 1980.

It wasn't all noise-remember this is Corin Tucker, mother of two. Tucker brought out cello and violin accompaniment for mellower cuts "It's Always Summer" (a true summer jam and an album highlight) and "Dragon." Things got really quiet during the stunning piano ballad "Miles Away," which led off an encore brought on by a crowd now subsisting on equal parts adrenaline and alcohol.

The real clue that this was 2010: During the evening's quieter moments, you could hear kids talking in the balcony. Earlier in the evening the Golden Bears' Julianna Bright confirmed that there would be three kids on the tour. Judging by the attendance and unadulterated love at Thursday night's tour opener it would be impossible-kids or no kids-for these upcoming shows to be anything but a family affair.

Setlist:
Thrift Store Coats
Half a World Away
It's Always Summer
Riley
Handed Love
1,000 Years
Pulling Pieces
Dragon
Big Goodbye
It's Obvious (Au Pairs cover)
Doubt
Miles Away
Party Girl
Up Front
Cool
The Glamorous Life

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