From the day that Carrie Brownstein announced last fall that she had teamed up with Mary Timony, Rebecca Cole and Janet Weiss to form Wild Flag, the quartet has done its best to dampen the hype that was sure to accompany a project involving so many significant female indie rock personalities. The band resisted letting any studio tracks see the light of day until “Glass Tambourine” surfaced on NPR last week (stream the track here), and it’s played very small venues on its initial headlining tours.
Wild Flag played one of its largest headlining gigs to date at the Brighton Music Hall last night, and though the sold-out crowd could have only guessed at the sonic onslaught that awaited – Merge described the band’s sound as “an avalanche taking out a dolphin” in its introduction back in September – expectations were palpably high. And the group did not disappoint.
With its members having logged significant time with Sleater-Kinney, Helium and the Minders, many have been quick to label Wild Flag a supergroup – yet that tag doesn’t exactly do this new outfit justice. Despite its collective experience, the band plays with the exuberance and hunger of a new act. If there were two things that were abundantly clear about Wild Flag following its hour-long set, it’s that the longtime friends are surely out to have fun – and they’re equally sure to be a force to reckon with in the months ahead.
Though all four members contributed vocals, Portlandia star Brownstein and BU grad Timony traded front-woman duties throughout the band’s set, frequently meeting center stage for extended thrash sessions and trying to out-do each other’s rock-star theatrics around every turn. The songs jumped from succinct to psychedelic to barely-controlled chaos, with Wild Flag reaching the peak of its prowess in closing its set with the one-two punch of “Racehorse” and “Romance.”
If there was a low point, it was a Timony-led cover of “Beast of Burden” in the encore, which just didn’t seem to fit alongside the rest of the band’s set. That slight misstep was quickly rectified with Brownstein’s riotous take on Patti Smith’s “Ask the Angels” to close out the night. Missing from the setlist was the band’s rendition of “Dirty Water,” though that was probably for the best – with the capacity crowd already going nuts, visiting that hallow territory may have torn the roof off the Brighton Ave. club.
Local trio Shepherdess opened the show with a standout 30-minute set and were followed by Texas duo YellowFever.
Wild Flag’s Setlist:
Endless Talk / Arabesque / Future Crimes / Electric Band / Short Version / Something Got A… / Boom / Glass Tambourine / Oh Yeah / Racehorse / Romance // Beast of Burden / Ask the Angels