Live Review: Wild Flag at Sticky Fingerz Chicken Shack, March 14

By Johnathan Spencer

I have been excited for months about this show – Wild Flag! A Rockin’ Girl Supergroup! They made a tour stop in Little Rock on their way to SXSW – I HAD to see them. So I was glad to hear that one of my friends HAD to see them as well. We arrived early expecting a large crowd because we had read many reviews about how awesome their shows have been and that they have a tendency to sell out venues. We were glad to find the crowd wasn’t as prompt as we were, so we made our way to the front.

Austin duo YellowFever assumed the stage first. Jennifer Moore, guitar and keys, and Adam Jones, drums and bass synth, looked like they were really enjoying sharing their quirky, dance creations with Arkansas. Even though it was the first time I have heard most of their songs, I left the night still humming them. They are all so catchy and happy. Moore’s very ’60s folk-inspired vocal melodies accompanied by Jones’ happy rolling drum beats make for a great combination that is sure to put a smile on your face and a skip to your step.

After the set change, Times New Viking launched into their very fast and hard-hitting lo-fi noise pop. Through all the static, reverb, pounding drums, psychedelic organ, and Jared Phillips’ guitar shreds, the almost-there-but-not-quite harmonies of Adam Elliott and Beth Murphy were by contrast very welcome and pleasant. Their sound is captivating even though the songs only average around two minutes long. The deliberate repetitiveness of the music and lyrics serves to ingrain them into your being. Another musical gift to leave with.

Now it was time for Wild Flag! Not too many people have heard about the new supergroup, especially here in Arkansas, because it wasn’t the packed house I was expecting, but for a Monday night there was a large crowd and they were on their feet and at the stage ready to rock. Wild Flag is a Portland, Ore.- and Washington, D.C.-based quartet consisting of Carrie Brownstein, Mary Timony, Rebecca Cole and Janet Weiss. They are sort of a mystery because they are so new (began gigging Nov 2010) and they are not touring to promote an album. So there is not much for fans to hear before the live performance. You can’t sing along or guess what is next because it is all new to you. There is a 7-inch available at shows now and will be online next month that has two of their songs (“Glass Tambourine” and “Future Crimes”). There will be a full length later in the year as they are soon to begin recording. As they tour, the songs, as well as the quartet, are growing and getting into sync.

Brownstein (formerly of Sleater-Kinney) and Timony (formerly of Helium) traded off lead vocals throughout the night, which made for great variety. Brownstein seemed to always on the verge of explosion while Timony was more reserved and subdued, but as guitarists, they are soul-mates. It was amazing to watch and to try to take in all the energy as the two played together and off of each other. The raw, crunchy, fire swirling guitar solos and bridges really got the crowd to moving and cheering for more. Cole’s (formerly of the Minders and of Monticello, Ark.) keyboard contributions, a blend of soul, jazz and rock, brought a real playfulness to Wild Flag’s sound, while Weiss (formerly of Sleater-Kinney) supplied propulsive drums to round everything out. It’s a truly collaborative effort that yields fantastic, hard-rocking results. This is evident in two of my favorite songs right now “Racehorse” and “Glass Tambourine.” They are so well put together utilizing all members to the full to give birth to awesomeness. Can’t wait to hear the album! Can’t wait for them to return to Little Rock!

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