Tag Archives: Wild Flag

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Ex Hex Close Out the Weekend at Union Transfer

April 27th, 2015

Ex Hex – Union Transfer – April 26, 2015

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All female rock bands aren’t novel. In fact, groundwork was set by riot grrrl nearly 20 years ago. And to that point, across town, on the same night as Ex Hex’s show, audiences could see Speedy Ortiz, fronted by Sadie Dupuis. These bands are often mentioned together as well as in relation to gender politics in contemporary indie rock. That may be because despite a more diverse landscape, historically, it was rare to see women rip ear-ringing guitar solos, much less do so in sequin dresses and fishnet stockings. At Union Transfer on Sunday, this was the takeaway image to go along with Ex Hex’s wonderfully aggressive and infectious sound.

Ex Hex is Mary Timony on guitar and vocals, Betsy Wright on bass and vocals, and Laura Harris on drums. Although they are a relatively new band, with only one LP, 2014’s Rips, Timony is a veteran of the indie rock scene, having played in Helium, Autoclave and Wild Flag. Last night, both Timony and Wright wore sequin dresses that shimmered in front of an equally shimmery backdrop of brass-colored streamers. Harris’s bass drum depicted a spider that was either symbolic of a black widow or a devourer of men—or it was just unsettling imagery. In contrast, the sound was steady, booming rhythms and big, beautiful distortion, led by Timony bending down to adjust whatever knobs or pedals were needed to play the music even louder.

The set list was a quick succession of tracks from Rips, interspersed with new songs and the most recent single, “Hot and Cold.” Each song leapt forward, before falling back in line with other sub-three-minute sound attacks. It was rapid fire, with occasional false starts and breaks for stage banter. Timony playfully acknowledged the men in the crowd, jokingly dedicating a song by saying, “This one’s for the party boys.” Some of them danced wildly and others stood cross-armed, absorbing the music of their WXPN morning commute. But across all genders, Ex Hex played wonderfully within a less than inclusive history of music and expertly within the vacuum of the night. —Jared Levy | @Playtonic

(Ex Hex play Music Hall of Williamsburg on 6/12.)

 

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Because It’s Fun

April 2nd, 2012

Wild Flag – Webster Hall – April 1, 2012

(Photo: Andie Diemer)

Wild Flag deserves two different introductions, depending on who you are. For older rock fans, the news here is that members Carrie Brownstein (formerly of Sleater-Kinney), Janet Weiss (Sleater-Kinney and Quasi), Mary Timony (Autoclave and Helium) and Rebecca Cole (the Minders) are all still kicking ass, perhaps even more so than any of them did in their previous bands. For younger fans and mere observers of pop culture, the headline here is that that chick from Portlandia (Brownstein) is one hell of a guitarist.

Playing almost entirely through their much-acclaimed 2011 self-titled debut, last night at Webster Hall, Wild Flag cranked out crisp performances of favorites “Short Version,” “Racehorse” and “Something Came Over Me,” as well as a few new songs. They closed with the single “Romance,” which, placed at the end of a set, can’t help but feel like a mission statement of sorts for the group, an ode to the romance of rock and roll.

Bands are driven for all sorts of reasons, with their motives usually apparent in the energy of their live performances. Wild Flag seems to be motivated by nothing more than having a ton of fun. It shows through their pure rock and roll swagger that’s impossible to fake. Why cover songs like the Rolling Stones’ “Beast of Burden,” the Ramones’ “Do You Wanna Dance” and Fugazi’s “Margin Walker” in an encore? Because it’s fun, and they want to. It’s as simple as that. Why start a new band when you’ve already made your mark with other noteworthy groups in the past? It’s likely for the same reason. —Dan Rickershauser

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Ladies Night

October 19th, 2011

Wild Flag/Eleanor Friedberger – The Bowery Ballroom – October 18, 2011

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It would be tough to describe Wild Flag’s sold-out set last night at The Bowery Ballroom without doing a lot of cursing. The four-woman “supergroup”—Carrie Brownstein, Rebecca Cole, Mary Timony and Janet Weiss—had too many “[bleep] yeah!” rock-and-roll moments to count: high leg kicks, windmill guitar playing, vertical leaps and more. The playing was totally badass as they worked through the material off their eponymous debut album with relentless drumming from start to finish combined with an electricity passing between the two guitars like a jagged lightning bolt slipping between two clouds. And then there were standout moments, like the jam out of the midset “Glass Tambourine” or the monster stretched-out set-closer “Racehorse,” in which the guitars, drums and organ meshed together in a thermonuclear explosion of sound. At those times, all you could say was “Holy s#$!”

Fiery Furnaces listeners often have had a different kind of reaction: “WTF?” But, seeing them live, it was always clear that Eleanor Friedberger was a force of nature. Playing solo material off her excellent Last Summer release in the opening slot last night, she was both at her most accessible and still plenty weird. She draws you in by delivering her words more like reciting epic poetry than singing pop songs, with the music behind her almost incidental at times. The lyrics read like diary entries recanting strange days out in Brooklyn or long letters to lost lovers. Stripped of whatever studio magic went into making them on the album, the songs were fresh and raw and pure Friedberger. “Roosevelt Island,” with a tempo that threatened to get away from her but didn’t, and the sublime “Scenes from Bensonhurst,” the lyrics matching the slow bass groove, were highlights. New songs seemed to promise more to come, which, she seemed to assure us, is a good thing. —A. Stein

Photos courtesy of Mina K

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CMJ Music Marathon Starts Today

October 18th, 2011


It’s that time of year again: 20-minute sets; in midtown one minute, the Lower East Side the next; scarfing down food with minutes to spare before the next show. From Mercury Lounge to The Bowery Ballroom and beyond, the CMJ Music Marathon is upon us. Here’re which bands we’re specifically looking forward to seeing play live. New York City quintet Caveman transfers any pop sensibilities into a dreamy landscape of lush indie harmonies through love, nostalgia and other sentiments. In support of their debut, CoCo Beware, Caveman will play 10 shows during CMJ, including the Bowery Presents showcase on 10/22 at Pianos. —Tina Benitez

The CMJ Music Marathon, now in its 31st year, is back to make five days in October seem impossible to navigate. Expect packed lineups at each venue because every band you ever wanted to see is in town. The supergroup Wild Flag, featuring Mary Timony, from Helium, and Carrie Brownstein, of Sleater Kinney among others, kicks off things tonight at The Bowery Ballroom. And at the same time Afro-punk Presents Death to Hip-Hop, featuring technical death-metal pioneers Death and Brooklyn’s own skate-pizza punk, Cerebral Ballzy, whose name really says it all. Wednesday’s pick has to be the ever-controversial indie rap group Odd Future at Terminal 5. Then on Thursday try to get into the sold-out lineup at Mercury Lounge, with garage-rock Xray Eyeballs and Florida’s Jacuzzi Boys, followed by Memoryhouse’s atmospheric shoegaze and finally, J. Mascis. You will show up at 6:30 and stay the entire night. Friday has more fuzzed-out pop with Dum Dum Girls and Crocodiles at The Bowery Ballroom, and if you sleep over, on Saturday, Gang Gang Dance’s experimental electronic beats just might give you a chance to recover. And then sleep on Sunday for 24 hours before work. That’s your CMJ. —Jason Dean

Last year I spent the majority of CMJ camped out at Terminal 5 for My Morning Jacket. But this year I plan to get around. Not everyone has an abundance of free time, so if you can only hit one show, my money’s on the High Road Touring showcase at The Bowery Ballroom on 10/20. And despite it being a stellar lineup from top to bottom, for me the No. 1 band to check out during the whole festival is Alabama Shakes (above, playing “I Found You” for Live from the Shoals). The quartet, out of small-town Athens, Ala., has a four-song EP and an incredible bluesy-soul sound. You won’t want to miss Brittany Howard’s voice. Sure, she’s a postal worker by day, but she’s a bona fide rock star by night. Don’t miss this. You’ll be able to tell your friends you saw this band at the very beginning. —R. Zizmor

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The House List Is Heading Back to SXSW

March 8th, 2011


March has begun, which means a few things: We change the clocks soon, the NCAA Tournament is fast approaching and The House List is headed back to SXSW next week. We’ll be setting up camp again at IFC’s Crossroads House on Sixth and Brazos, and we’ll be keeping you up to date with everything happening 3/16-18. We’ve got a great lineup of interviews and performances, including Brett Dennen, Portugal. The Man, Lupe Fiasco, Young the Giant, City and Colour, Little Dragon, Emmylou Harris, Fitz and the Tantrums, Liz Phair, Sharon Van Etten, the Rural Alberta Advantage and Wild Flag. And we’ll have links to live streams, interviews and plenty of photos. So make sure you tune in! In the meantime, check out Broken Social Scene, above, playing “Texico Bitches” at last year’s SXSW.

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A Double Dose of Bright Eyes

March 4th, 2011


Bright Eyes began in mid-’90s Omaha, Nebraska, when Conor Oberst sought out a new band for his songwriting to be featured, ultimately, on Saddle Creek Records, the label he founded with his brother. Oberst was eventually joined by a rotating group of musicians before he finally settled in with Mike Mogis and Nate Walcott as permanent members. Many years and acclaimed EPs and LPs later, Bright Eyes (above, playing “Jejune Stars” on Late Show with David Letterman) are still going strong, having just released their seventh studio album, The People’s Key, just a few weeks ago. And with that in mind, the band—and Superchunk and Wild Flag—heads our way for two shows at Radio City Music Hall next week. Wednesday’s is sold out, but you can still get tickets to see them on Tuesday. And let’s face it, you really should!