Live Review

Wild Flag, ATP Nightmare Before Christmas

Their performance is virtually flawless. A real stormer of a show.

Despite Carrie Brownstein largely being regarded as the “creative director” of sorts of Portland-based quartet Wild Flag, there seems to be a real sense of internal democracy at place in the group’s live showing at Les Savy Fav’s leg of the Nightmare Before Christmas ATP. The word “jam” gets banded about more often than even the most tolerate of music fans would condone, but with their live show Wild Flag are a rare band that somehow manage to truly exhibit and incorporate the act of creation in their renditions.

Each member of the band (the aforementioned Brownstein taking lead guitar and co-vocals, Mary Timony supplying the other half of these, drummer Janet Weiss - formerly of Sleater-Kinney along with Brownstein and Rebecca Cole on keyboards) seem to have an equally weight role - with Weiss even leaving the drums and taking a more centre stage role for the hand-percussion and backing vocal shift - and, moreover yet, every guitar strum or simple picking seems as fresh as the moment it was first conceived. Brownstein and Timony gravitate towards each other on solos and their faces beam when they know they’ve nailed a certain track, which - lucky for us - is nearly every one of the 45 minute-long set.

If the misconception of Brownstein as some sort of svengali was ever to be disproved, Wild Flag help to achieve this by opening the set with two Timony-led numbers (‘Black Tiles’ and ‘Electric Band’). They continue to swap-and-change from thereon out, with the pair almost alternating lead role. This could, for many acts, lead to some sort of disconnectedness and appearing like two separate bands - but, like on their debut record that dropped earlier this year and currently being listed in end-of-year lists the whole blogosphere over, the integrated nature of the group takes care of this problem.

Their performance on the night is virtually flawless, billed halfway through the night a spectator nearby remarks that they’re the “first proper show” of the night. And that’s a very valid point, as up to this point you’re aware that it’s a toned down and shortened set for many. This is far from true of Wild Flag; this could well be a headline outing - quite like their one at The Lexington the night before.

But, like I mentioned, virtually flawless - with the only slip-up sadly coming near the end as Timony’s effects pedal seems to give way, leading to a not-as-emphatic-as-would’ve-liked closure. It doesn’t seem to dampen the crowd’s enthusiasm at all though, with just as many shouting the words back to the fourpiece as those not completely acquainted with the band but bloody well enjoying the show anyway. A real stormer of a show from four seasoned and spellbinding musicians, who just so happen to be girls.

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