Wild Flag owns the stage, through sore throats and beer bottles
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor
It takes equal amounts of class and bravado to shrug off having a full bottle of Heineken launched at your drummer after one song.
Wild Flag, on stage at the Paradise Rock Club in Boston, were able to pull off the feat after “Electric Band” kicked off their third visit to the city in less than a year. A confused look by guitarist Mary Timony, matched by drummer Janet Weiss and cleared up by guitarist Carrie Brownstein, who called for a towel to clean up the “safety hazard.”
“And it’s a safety hazard,” she added, “because I might throw it back.”
When a band owns a stage, an incident like that is an act of aggression. To brush aside such a brazen, stupid act with nonchalance and attitude was the best possible recourse. And it came so naturally that it took hours after the show to analyze just how cool they were under the immediate pressure.
There shouldn’t have been that pressure right away. Their debut record was easily one of the best of 2011, the band is getting a tremendous amount of attention (the right kind of attention, too, if that’s your thing), and unlike their previous visit to the club, this night is a sold-out affair.
Brownstein complained early on of a sore throat, and joked to Timony that, “you’ll have to sing ‘Racehorse’ tonight,” a notion met with a playful “no” headshake. But beyond skipping out on some backing vocals, Brownstein plowed through with all the energy that would’ve been expected, and then some. She’s a veteran, one who knows to leave nothing on that club punk stage.
Beyond their record, Wild Flag stretched out into some unknown waters. “Winter Pair” and “Nothing,” two songs that appeared on the last tour, were back, and were joined by two more new songs, noted simply as “Carrie New” and “Mary New” on the setlist. And those songs from the Wild Flag record? They sounded tighter and louder than their recorded counterparts, and some songs, including “Boom” and “Racehorse,” were stretched out and featured plenty of interplay between the guitars and drums.
The element of mischief is still very present. After a roaring cover of Television’s “See No Evil,” Timony unplugged her guitar, grabbed Brownstein’s and the entire band stopped for a moment. A quick conversation in the spirit of, “are we realy doing this,” took place before the band ripped into a screaming version of Fugazi’s “Margin Walker,” with Brownstein prowling the stage and mangling a mic stand.
It was fantastic, a tribute to every punk band who came before and a testament to how much this band can tear it up when they want. The songwriting and originality, obviously, are there. But so is the edge that only great bands can find.
This is, simply, a band playing as well or better than any other band in the country. They’re fun. They’re dangerous. They’re focused, and they’re wild. They’re everything a rock and roll band should be. And, appropriately, they own their stage.
E-mail Nick Tavares at email@example.com