Taking an eight-year hiatus between tours and allowing a 10-year gap between albums isn’t a formula for success for most rock bands.
Yet the lengthy intervals worked wonders for the fortunes of Sleater-Kinney.
The band played to about 1,100 fans at the Uptown Theater on Sunday. The trio’s previous appearance in the Kansas City area was a 2005 show at the substantially smaller Bottleneck in Lawrence.
Rather than being forgotten, the bracing music on Sleater-Kinney’s first seven albums has grown in popularity in recent years. The band’s distinctive version of punk and vociferous stances on social and political issues have inspired other musicians and resonated with a new generation of listeners.
The strength of the new album “No Cities to Love” -- arguably the band’s best recording since its inception in Washington in 1994 -- has helped convince old and new fans of Sleater-Kinney’s ongoing relevance.
Carrie Brownstein’s work on television’s “Portlandia” has also played a role in the band’s heightened profile.
In spite of repeatedly striking rock star poses as she played guitar and sang, Brownstein didn’t upstage her band mates during Sunday’s 80-minute outing. Corin Tucker’s jarring yelp remains forceful while drummer Janet Weiss played with controlled fury. Multi-instrumentalist Katie Harkin augmented the band.
Sleater-Kinney retains the wild abandon of a punk band while exhibiting substantially improved musicianship. The trio’s maturation as songwriters provided most of the night’s best moments.
Renditions of the new songs “No Anthems” and “A New Wave” sounded like the triumphant realization of the band’s original sonic goal. The dance-oriented “Fangless” resembled a mash-up of the disco hit-makers Chic and the angular post-punk of Gang of Four.
Many of the older songs on the set list seemed comparatively monochromatic.
Sleater-Kinney’s commitment to defying expectations extended to its choice of an opening act. Theesatisfaction, a Seattle based alternative hip hop duo, made its Kansas City debut on Sunday. In spite of its stylistic incongruity from the headliner, Theesatisfaction’s 40-minute set was generally well received.
Catherine Harris-White and Stasia Irons rapped and sang over languid pre-recorded tracks that extended the innovations of Sun Ra, George Clinton and De La Soul.
The presence of Theesatisfaction signaled Sleater-Kinney’s eager embrace of new ideas.
Sleater-Kinney railed against musical nostalgia on “Entertain,” imploring uninspired colleagues to “please go away if your art is done.” During Sunday’s galvanizing concert, it sounded as if Sleater-Kinney was just getting started.
SLEATER-KINNEY’S OFFICIAL SET LIST AT SOUNDBOARD
What's Mine Is Yours
One More Hour
A New Wave
Turn It On
I Wanna Be Your Joey Ramone
No Cities to Love
Bury Our Friends
All Hands on the Bad One
Words and Guitar
Dig Me Out