Wild Flag at the Paradise

Matthew Shelter on April 3, 2012

Wild Flag
Paradise Rock Club
Boston, MA
March 31

Wild Flag is one of those bands that’s far from a household name, but whose ardent fan base is convinced deserves way more recognition than they’ve gotten. After seeing them for the first time at a sold-out Paradise Rock Club in Boston over the weekend, I’m inclined to agree with the ardent fan base.

For the uninitiated, Wild Flag emerged on the scene in late 2010, when guitarist Carrie Brownstein and drummer Janet Weiss, late of the indie-punk band Sleater-Kinney, joined with Helium’s Mary Timony (guitar, vocals, fishnet stockings) and the Minders’ Rebecca Cole (keyboards) to form what has loftily been described as a supergroup. It happens that all four are women, which means (if you do the cocktail-napkin math real quick) there are no guys in this band. To call Wild Flag a “girl band,” though, would require labeling Led Zeppelin a “boy band.” Truth be told, it’s not so much that they are all-girl than that they play with the same punk-edged brashness and swagger as the bad boys that makes them such fun to watch.

Wild Flag’s 13-song set covered all but one of the tracks on their eponymous 2011 album. Early in the show, they unleashed furious back-to-back jams on “Black Ties” and “Winter Pair,” and then did it again on “Boom” and “Glass Tambourine.” ¬-Brownstein has made the Rolling Stone readers’ list of the 25 most underrated guitarists and after hearing her play, it’s easy to see why. She was riveting at the Paradise show, her playing at times sounding like vintage Crazy Horse-era Neil Young and at other times, with the rest of band joining in, like Pete Townshend’s cacophonous closing run on “Won’t Get Fooled Again” right before Moonie’s drums crash back in. Yes, I mean that.

Other standout numbers included “Future Crimes,” and set closers “Racehorse” and “Romance.” Near the end of the show, Brownstein punctuated one of their jams by standing poised like a rock god with her back to the crowd and her Gibson held aloft in a single upraised hand. Such a perfect gesture – I don’t know if she was being ironic, or was caught in the moment, or maybe she just wanted to hold her guitar in the air. It really didn’t matter. More, please.