All-women bands often hate being referred to as such. As much as sexism has been lessened in music over the last 30 years, rock music at large is still a boys game. Women that rock are often signaled out as feminist musicians or labeled with a bevy of terms that differentiate them from the rest because of their sex. As Wild Flag keyboard player/vocalist Rebecca Cole told Philadelphia Weekly, “you never read about the all-boy band nearly as much; it’s not much of a talking point.”
But for just a moment, I’m gonna bring up their status as women to make a small point — I don’t think I’ve ever seen a group of guys go for it on stage like these four ladies did at the Trocadero on Tuesday night. Philly crowds are hard to get moving (myself included), but they got everyone in a tizzy: from the lesbian couple with intense hair cuts to the nerdy college kid that bounced side-to-side like a bobblehead doll. And I’ve never seen any other band in recent memory — all-male or all-female — really throw down like this. And look so fantastic while doing it.
From the time “Black Tiles” began, it was clear that Wild Flag was ready to play with their guts hanging out for view. “Future Crimes,” with Rebecca’s insistent keyboard riff, was sad and triumphant at once. A song that talks about insecurity and indecision, it really came alive on stage. “Boom” shows why every hipster across America thinks Carrie Brownstein is the hottest thing on two legs. She purred, growled, and really fucked up her guitar. Sick.
And the new songs debuted by the band show that they have no intent of slowing down or pulling back any punches. Mary Timony continues to walk that fine line between singing and talking that recalls Blondie at its best (seriously, if someone makes a Blondie biopic, cast Mary as the lead without question), but its just a bit more aggressive and bold, even though these new tracks explore familiar pop/rock song structures.
The clear stunner in the set, though, was “Glass Tambourine,” which went on for almost 8 minutes (but probably more). Mary began with her rich, almost deadpan vocals, and that was good enough. But suddenly the lights went dim and turned red, with the exception of this bold, glowing white light that back-lit the ladies like some kind of sultry, devilish siren that was destined to take your money and your soul. Janet Weiss began to wail on the drums, and the whole group seemed to dip into a musical abyss that the entire crowd was happy to trip into. It was amazing — the kind of thing that turns casual listeners into fans and makes normal fans realize why they never threw rock music to the wayside. — Darren White
Also, read Darren’s review of Hospitality’s opening set here.
Wild Flag @ The Trocadero – Philadelphia, PA – Tuesday, April 3, 2012
01 Black Tiles
02 Future Crimes
03 Electric Band
04 Winter Pair
05 Something Came Over Me
07 Glass Tambourine
08 Short Version
13 Endless Talk
14 See No Evil (Television cover)
15 Do You Wanna Dance? (Bobby Freeman cover)