Friday, October 21, 2011

Wild Flag - Eleanor Friedberger -- Black Cat - Oct 20 2011

Eleanor Friedberger - I have seen Eleanor F in Fiery Furnaces on three unique occasions. That band really varied their approached in subtle ways in each of those tours. And now that she is active as a solo artist, there is yet another variation. The voice is the same, the songwriting within that range, but there is more of an interesting rock push with the assembled players tonight. The second song was interesting as she reminded me of Patti Smith's imaginary sister--the quiet studious one that stayed in the background, but had a lot of the same poetry and vision. This band was also in that direction with a Lenny Kaye-like garage sensibility, but with a bit thicker sludgy component. They maintained this light psychedelic sound throughout the 43 minute set and it was quite fetching. It was similar to the (little known work) of Bobb Trimble, who played DC earlier this year. All in all this was a solid set by smart people who have enough quiet passion for their music to make for an interesting listening experience.

Wild Flag - Sold out tonight as this band has had significant buzz from before their first tour. This is their second time around the country as this four-piece from Portland, Oregon and DC continues to solidify their presence in the indie music scene. They have a great tribal thump at times, with solid rock drumming throughout. The keyboards are a nice touch and keep the bottom for the two guitars to flail away in the manner of many a post-punk band. Although it's hard to resist comparing all female groups to other all female groups, it is just as hard not to think of the Raincoats and the Slits as I listen. But Swell Maps, Public Image, and many of the mostly British post-punk bands are also here in the sound. The good cuts are good and there is nothing bad--aside from some feedback that was more painful than planned. At times, I did drift off into wondering why exactly does this good band achieve a sell-out, while I will be seeing some great bands over the next few weeks with smaller audiences and smaller clubs. But I will complain about that later. Fortunately, Wild Flag snapped me back to attention with a song that reminded me of Mudhoney playing with a swirling 13th Floor Elevators vibe. That is not easy to pull off, but they did it. They played a new song which didn't sound too terribly new as Wire also did a song called "Three Girl Rhumba" with a similar beat singing "Nothing is nothing" But after that distraction, they played a long brilliant freak-out jam that was two parts Velvet Underground, one part Doors. This completed their hour long set prior to encores (Ramones and Television covers were a nice touch) and abated my cynicism. They delivered.

Quote of the Night: From Eleanor Friedberger... "All right, this is a slow song... very serious."

That got me thinking. When does a moderate or fast paced hard rocking band do a slow song and have it be fun or frivolous? I don't think it happens often. Led Zeppelin's "D'yer Mak'er"comes to mind, and although many heavy bands have done slower reggae songs, they are not often frivolous. Maybe the Who's "Tattoo", not quite frivolous, but light and fun compared to their faster, harder approach.

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