October 20th, 2011
It was my inaugural concert-going experience at Union Transfer last night. It was pouring, but that didn’t stop the rockness (especially Portland rock chicks). Here are 10 things I saw, heard and learned at last night’s Eleanor Friedberger and Wild Flag concert:
1. Friedberger, in all her late ’70s/early ’80s hair glory, looked like a cool mom shredding on a sea foam green guitar. The performance was not as groovy as the record is, and absolutely more flat when she didn’t have that turquoise number in her hands.
2. Carrie Brownstein (pictured) is skinny. It’s not that I didn’t expect her to be so skinny, it’s that she was wearing skin-tight black jeans and she worked ‘em out like there was no tomorrow. Having watched “Modern Girl” from Burn To Shine about a million times, it seems as though she’s getting sexier with age. To add to this, she did at least a dozen, maybe two, high kicks throughout the show reminiscent of Molly Shannon’s Helen Madden, the Joyologist on Saturday Night Live who likes to kick and stretch.
3. Wild Flag have super-cute stage banter, perhaps sharpened by Brownstein’s turns on IFC’s Portlandia and NPR. She said she was on the Twitter, and it looked like some Philadelphians weren’t going to make it to the show because they didn’t want to brave the rain. She found humor in that, being from a city where rain is the norm eight months a year. And I started to think that Philly kids are pussies for not going “all the way” up to 10th and Spring Garden. C’mon.
4. “Glass Tambourine” sounded better than it does on the record. It sounded totally rad and it may have been amplified by the fact that Carrie and the other lead shredder, Mary Timony, jump around stage and emote like they’re the Rolling Stones or something. Sexy gestures of “We’re totally rocking now” communicated through shoulder shimmies and pursed lips. Hot.
5. Mary and Carrie often cross their guitars like swords when ripping solos. It’s super duper metal for a couple uber-PC gals. Kinda like watching the hosts of Delicious Dish doing keg stands while listening to Reign in Blood. (Only not at all.)
6. Moshing and/or stage diving did not occur at this show. I thought it might be like a Sleater Kinney show and that I might even catch a punch in the mouth or something. This was very much not the case. In fact, it was extraordinarily easy to get to about ten feet from the stage without any pushing or crowding. There were jokes from the ladies about a stage dive actually happening, but Carrie put a kibosh on it and said “Stage diving will inevitably end up in a trip to the emergency room.”
7. They played “Something Came Over Me” and confused me because the song is neither titled “Stereo,” nor “Let The Good Times Roll.” It might also have been titled “Creeping Up Slowly” but those are just lyrics, it turns out. Distinct ones. But “Let The Good Times Roll” made me think of the Cars, a band that on first glance seems very different from Wild Flag, but, upon further contemplation, may not be so far off.
8. Finally, they let us have the two most killer tracks on the record toward the end of the set with “a love song,” “Romance,” and the shockingly stellar “Racehorse.” Timony and Brownstein seemed to trade off lead and rhythm guitar duties, but “Racehorse” was where Brownstein turned on the lead guitar schtick. She has complete control over those solos and hits every note like a good Portlander slams PBR, or reads a book, or downs a coffee, or rides a fixed-gear through a yellow light.
9. It was in the last few songs that I seemed to notice a fondness for ’70s Classic Rock druggy jam sounds: noodly solos, chaotic drums, searing organs, wandering space jams, etc. I would put money on the fact that in that tour bus they have some Floyd and Zep kicking around.
10. In the men’s room, they have a shit-ton of urinals. Like 12 to 15 on three walls of a four-wall room. It’s a little surreal and a scoche weird to stare at the wall right in front of you with two strange dudes pissing on each side of you. (Bill Chenevert)
[Photo by Bill Chenevert]