Wild Flag, Electric Ballroom, Camden 1st Feb 2012

Wild Flag0101It’s hard to credit just how fast far and hard Wild Flag have come in a little over a year. OK there is that ‘super-group’ tag, and the portents were always good, born out of the ashes of such luminary bands as Sleater-Kinney, Helium, The Minders and the myriad variations thereof. And yet dare we say it, we have all been here before when the progenitor bands have been – how can I put this – slightly dusty of provenance and it’s all turned out a bit nice-but-insipid. Which is what makes it all the more incredible just how flamingly alive this band were on stage. It’s appropriate it was at the Electric Ballroom, because electric is what they were. I won’t say they were playing like their lives depended on it because they’re clearly far too experienced and in charge of their own destiny for that to be the case. What I will say is that they opened with Mary Timony and Carrie Brownstein high kicking the air in mirror image moves and they barely stopped from there on in.

While it was hard rocking and elemental, it was clear from the big grins that they are having the time of their lives just now with Wild Flag. Carrie told us as much, about enjoying a very English tour, soundtracked by PJ Harvey, reading Stephen Fry, while she jokingly enquired if in fact all of the audience had gone to Uni at Oxford? Why of course my dear, why do you ask?

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It was classic rock mated to riot-grrrl which might not be 100% surprising given the 90’s heritage of every single one of the band. Lordy these girls can play. Mary showed us how to artfully get an actual tune out of feedback howl by moving the instrument around in the backwash (Camden boys take note) while Carrie did much the same while balancing her Guild 6-string high above her head on its end pin. When Ms. Timony disappeared lying on her back behind the monitor wedges, legs thrashing and twitching, Ms. Brownstein connected with the spirit by playing for periods with her head in contact with Rebecca Cole’s keyboard.
It would be an objective statement of fact that out of my last 100 gigs, for 93 I have been in the front row, I’m that kind of guy. There was no chance tonight, the first two rows packed from the second the doors opened with the London cognoscenti and the tour faithful, much discussion of how the band had been at Thekla or Cloud Control, and who’d been to every night. I heard someone offer to pay for his (Wild Flag virgin) friends’s ticket if said friend didn’t love it. Safe money, very safe.

Support Peggy Sue played out of their skins, clearly fired up by the experience. They rocked harder than you might have imagined, and were candid enough to admit they’d been trying all tour to get down some moves from the headliners.

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