To see Wild Flag is to see music in motion. I’m not just talking about Pete Townsend-style guitar sweeps and the hypnotized sway of the crowd, although there was plenty of that at the band’s show at Webster Hall this past Sunday. The music itself was one big whorl of pogoing riffs, tightly wound snare hits and insistent keyboards. Over the course of its roughly 90-minute set, the supergroup—consisting of Sleater-Kinney alumnae Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss, as well as former Helium guitarist/vocalist Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole of the Minders—churned out virtually all of the tracks from its infectious 2011 self-titled LP, leaving little time for the frenzied crowd to catch its breath.
Even though Ms. Brownstein has found herself in the spotlight fairly recently—in addition to capturing the hearts of Netflix users everywhere for her hilarious roles on Portlandia, she’s just nabbed a deal to pen a memoir—she chose to operate from a more behind-the-scenes standpoint here, dutifully swapping songs, riffs and vocals with Timony. There were no sketch bits here, although between songs, Brownstein jokingly reminded the audience not to repeat a previous concertgoer’s mistake of throwing a beer bottle onstage. “I don’t know if he was just juggling,” she admitted with a smile. “Maybe he just wanted to rock out!” chimed in Timony, to peals of laughter.
Aside from that interlude, there was little talk and lots of rock. Already hefty cuts like “Boom” and “Racehorse” became all the more brawny in a live setting, their taut running-times sprawled into churning jams. There were new songs, including a kiss-off to end all kiss-offs by the name of “Nothing.” And, of course, there was “Romance,” the glittering guitar anthem that the Portland gals were smart to save for last. The crowd (consisting of grizzled Sleater-Kinney vets and teens alike) went absolutely nuts. There wasn’t a pit, but judging from all the whirling going on onstage, it was clear that Wild Flag brought its own storm.