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Under the Banner of Portlandia

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Another way to piss off the band is to call them a supergroup. “Carrie said this really well,” Timony says. “Calling us a supergroup waters down the term. We’re not that famous. We’re not the Traveling Wilburys.” But it does matter that Wild Flag are all women. Gender is not an overt part of Wild Flag’s creative identity—as it often is with Hole or Le Tigre or Bikini Kill—but it is part of their power.

On a hazy evening last month, backlit by the saccharine pink of an iridescent sunset, Wild Flag opened for Sonic Youth at the Williamsburg Waterfront. “Romance,” their first single and de facto mission statement, goes: “We love the sound / The sound is what found us / Sound is the blood between me and you.” Mid-set, Brownstein, who shares lead-vocal duties with Timony, looked across the stage at her co–front woman and grinned with a mix of pride and awe. Timony was wailing into the mike in a fitted little dress, leg propped up on her stage monitor, flashing her underwear to the front row.

When Brownstein’s ferocious command “Pony up and ride” wailed over a careening, violent guitar line during set-closer “Racehorse,” the crowd—grown-up rebel couples, the men collegiately sexy in A.P.C. jeans and graying sideburns, the women yoga-toned and wearing posh spectacles—was awed. Even though it shouldn’t be, it is unusual to see four women onstage playing with the level of innovation, technical skill, and brute power that Wild Flag demonstrates. “I’ve been in a lot of bands, and there’s not usually one that’s going to satisfy you, where you’re able to do everything you know how to do,” Weiss says. “This is a band where we all use all our strengths. There’s something great about four people doing what they do best. It makes us feel powerful. It makes us feel invincible.”

Wild Flag
Wild Flag.
Merge Records.
September 13. $13.98.


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