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Thursday, November 11, 2010

Wild Flag Live at Northern 11/10/10

Wild Flag played their first show ever at Northern last night. I was psyched to see four seasoned musicians breaking new creative ground. When I was watching Mary and Carrie play guitar I realized it has been a long time since I've seen women playing music together at this level. Not only are they both great guitarists, they each have their own distinct style and sound. No one in this band plays their instrument quite like anyone else. Plus they have melodies and harmonies AND they totally fucking rock. Lots of great singing too!

Mary Timony used to play in Helium, has made several solo albums and before that was in the early 90's DC prog-punk band Autoclave, who made a great pop record that came out first as a demo tape, then a 10", and now is available on CD. She has been one of my favorite guitarists for years. I had always been a fan but the last two Helium records blew my mind and there have been long extended periods of time when I've listened to nothing but The Magic City on repeat. It was super great to see and listen to Mary play guitar with Carrie Brownstein (Sleater-Kinney), who also has a unique way of playing based on a signature chord style and a percussive note-driven approach. Of course Janet Weiss didn't stop playing drums after Sleater-Kinney and is currently playing at her very best, she may very well be the best drummer out there today, in my humble opinion (and notice I did not say "best female drummer", which she is often credited as). Her beats are solid and driving yet she never loses her grip on a song, always moves it forward and releases tension in the right places. Her fills are fluid and don't drop out or make the song lag, which is a problem for lesser skilled drummers who hit as hard as she does (myself included here) she has her chops up and it is a real pleasure to have the chance to see her play. I don't know Rebecca and am not familiar with her musically but she also sings and played really well with the group, providing solid bass and keyboard ambiance.

Carrie's voice has never sounded better. She is singing from a stronger place and sounded fucking rad. Mary has a beautiful, haunting voice and I look forward to being able to hear it better as she was a little quiet last night. She is one of my favorite singers, there is a truly magical, intimate quality to her voice that just slays me every time I hear her sing, both live and on record. Janet and Rebecca also sang a lot last night, giving the group a solid chorus, which they are exploring with harmony and interweaving vocal lines.

Wild Flag clearly have some good songs already (though I couldn't make out lyrics and sometimes guitar work was difficult to pick apart because of the acoustics in the room) and I am totally looking forward to hearing the records they make together. They were great last night and they are just going to get better. It's very exciting to see women my own age starting this new musical chapter in their lives. They are taking chances, working hard, collaborating and giving it their all. Super inspiring. A fantastic show.


jess said...

I agree. That show was a thing of beauty.

Anonymous said...

I agree, Tobi. Plus they just seemed to be having such a great time. Glad I stepped out of the house to share it. Thanks, ladies and rock on!

u.v.ray. said...

I just watched your link to Janet Weiss in that drum battle.

I don't really know her but that is right up there with the Keith Moons and Clem Burkes of this world.

No gender specifics necessary. As you say - great drummer. Full stop.

Lenora said...

What is awesome is that some really mean people might say that they can't play now because they've already carved their marks in the music history but what rule is that these women are playing music right now but not only they play music but they don't get influenced by what other people say about their ages.

Molly Neuman said...

One thing that makes me really psyched is that Janet has made her career drumming.

Tobi Vail said...

Hi Molly...I think of drumming as a trade...she has tools and she has developed her craft...and yes it is totally inspiring I agree!!!! xoxox

jeff said...

just found this blog. i agree 100% about the awesome drumming. i cannot wait for this show in DC!