After Slint played one of their reunion shows last month at the All Tomorrow’s Parties festival in England, a reviewer noted that the crowd of several thousand outnumbered the combined attendance for every show they played before they broke up in 1991. Slint gigs were rare events–by most accounts, there were maybe about 30–which has only helped fuel the legendary status of the group in recent years. Guitarist Brian McMahan and drummer Britt Walford, both formerly of Squirrel Bait, formed Slint in the mid-80s with bassist Ethan Buckler and guitarist David Pajo; they recorded their first album, Tweez, in 1987 with Steve Albini, but didn’t release it until two years later on their own label, Jennifer Hartman Records. Tweez doesn’t contain anything that really resembles a song, but the band’s experiments with wild dynamics, texture, and noise sounded unlike anything else at the time. Buckler quit to form King Kong and was replaced by Todd Brashear; that lineup split before the release of its second album in 1991, but not before achieving perfection. On Spiderland, produced by Brian Paulson, those vaunted dynamics served real songs, however structurally weird. The jarring volume shifts, a wide array of guitar sounds–including pure metal chugging and ethereal chiming–geometrically jagged riffs, blasts of noise, McMahan’s whispered and wailed vocals, are all held together by Walford’s agile and muscular drumming. I was lucky enough to see the band play twice back then, including their final show in an Evanston basement. Good as the records were, they didn’t touch the live shows, where every unique quality of the band was amplified and strengthened. Brashear declined to participate in this reunion; Todd Cook of the Shipping News is playing bass. Verktum opens. At press time tickets were still available for this show; Slint also plays Friday 3/25 with Rednails at Metro and Saturday 3/26 at Park West; both shows are sold out. Thu 3/24, 9 PM, Metro, 3730 N. Clark, 773-549-0203 or 312-559-1212, $21, 18+.
Art accompanying story in printed newspaper (not available in this archive): photo/Sebastian Mlynarski.