In the nineties, Girl Power was phrase used by the Spice Girls as they stormed the charts and stuck it to men across the world. Now over ten years later the music industry is very much a female dominated one, with more and more all girl groups appearing across all genres spreading the word. 2010 brought us the haunting shoegazey melodies of female four piece War Paint, which don’t get me wrong I adore, but they left us wanting something more, something feistier and rough around the edges which matches the likes of Siouxie and the Banshees and Karen O. So when all-girl indie-rock super group Wild Flag bust on to the scene in 2011, it is needless to say I was very excited.
It is hard to believe that the girls from Portland, Oregon have a fan base made up of so many males. Nottingham’s Rescue Rooms was packed with a very male orientated audience eagerly anticipating the arrival of the band. Up first was support from female (and one male, but we’ll forget about that) trio Peggy Sue, stunning the crowd with their beautiful melancholic sounds. Although you can’t really dance to the songs and the lyrics are gloomy, their passion and energy filled the room and left the crowd in awe (Any band with a song called Yo Mama in my opinion are brilliant anyway.)
I spoke to someone in the crowd who said he hadn’t heard of Wild Flag until a week before the gig but he fell in love as soon as he heard their album. I don’t blame him, the album is fantastic. Finally the moment had arrived and drummer Janet Weiss entered the stage and kicked off the drums of ‘Electric Band’. The other three members shortly followed onto the stage to produce riffs that rival Marnie Stern and vocals similar to Be Your Own Pet, proving that they have all the essential elements of a powerful girl band, and so much more. As each song was played the bands confidence grew and won over the crowd with favourites from their eponymous album such as ‘Black Tiles’ and ‘Glass Tambourine.’
The aggressive guitar was complimented with a haunting harmony of vocals from all members of the band creating an air of elegance to the performance. Elegance however does not mean that the girls lack an edge. New songs ‘Nothing’ and ‘Winter Pair’ are thrown into the mix and Brownstein reflects the true rock and roll vibe the band are influenced by as her screams dominate over the powerful guitar sending the crowd wild. Undoubtedly the highlight of the night was one of the bands heavier tracks ‘Race Horse’ which by judging by the performance is set out to be a classic that will rival the fan’s current favourite ‘Romance’, which closed the set with a bang. It was only a few minutes before Wild Flag returned back onto the stage to play their renditions of classics from Television and The Ramones. Phew. Wild Flag truly proved that sisterhood is the way forward and it is refreshing to see that they have brought back rock and roll into a world filled with new bands that have moved away from the genre. (They are nowhere near as good.)