Wednesday night was filled with buzz as the Portland-based band Wild Flag was set to play Kansas City for the first time and the hipster crowd was making sure not to miss it. I had never been to the Record Bar when there was a line to get in. I thought it might have been sold out from the outside, but they were in fact just taking a while to file into the bar. Opening for Wild Flag was a duo calling themselves YellowFever from Austin, no relation to the virus that can kill you. I’m sure they only named themselves as such so critics like myself would pun up their reviews with things such as ‘no one was immune to the solid vibes being projected by YellowFever’, or ‘the crowd was contagious with YellowFever’. Not this critic, no, I can resist a pun, I think.
Donning all the instruments of a full band between just two young artists, YellowFever proves that more bodies are not needed to create minimalist, fun indie pop music for all. Lead vocalist Jennifer Moore runs the guitars, bass and keyboard while drummer Adam Jones also takes on bass synth and vocals behind his drum set. Although their songs are short and sweet, they stick with you. After hearing about three songs, I had a pretty clear idea of the direction they are headed in, musically. YellowFever could easily be heard on a soundtrack to any new indie film. They would fit perfectly as eerie or odd background music. The only downside to their music came about half way through the set. Their songs started to sound as if they were repeating. When your songs are focused on two or three chords throughout, there is only so much you can do to differ them from one another. The ambidextrous duo certainly gave us their all and seemed to have a good time doing so. Not only do they play a thousand instruments at once, but their t-shirts were handmade. Pick up their self titled album when you see them. I had fun with YellowFever, but I really came to see the girl quad Wild Flag.
I think that it is safe to say that quite a few of the fans that attended the show were new fans because of Carrie Brownstein’s new found fame from the successful comedy Portlandia on IFC. A few others may have been there because they just love super-goups. The band consists of ex-members from the bands Sleater-Kinney, Helium and The Minders. I was there because I have been trying to see these girls live for over seven months now. My original attempt was in Austin during SXSW, but with the craziness that goes on down there, my plans were changed and when they played, I was probably on the other side of town. One regret that I lived with for months now that has finally been rectified. The group did not disappoint. Their post-punk indie rock songs kept the crowd moving and stacked on top of one another to keep close to the stage. In fact, it was one of those shows where the crowd thinks that I’m trying to steal their spot by moving through and photographing. I could feel the gentle nudges and hip swings coming toward me as if to say, “get the fuck out of my spot.” Message received.
After safely returning to my spot by the sound board, the crowd really loosened up with Wild Flag and the girls on stage started head bangs and high kicks, which was awesome. The most impressive song of the set was “Glass Tambourine” which trailed on for another five minutes or so after the lyrics had ended. The psychedelic sounds filled the air during the set and returned us to a time when music meant something more than fifteen minutes of fame.
Its been a long time since I’ve seen a band truly perform for the crowd. With the hipster movement in full swing, most bands are what we like to call shoegazers. There is no movement on stage, besides the rotation of instruments. No dancing, gyrating or leg kicking-perhaps its due to those tight pants they wear. Make no mistake, Wild Flag consist of four women, but you certainly shouldn’t categorize them as such. Their musical skills and stage performance could hold up against any classic rock male band you could name. The vocals between the foursome are eerily in sync as well. Its not that they sing in harmony, no, when they sing, they all sound like the exact same voice, the only difference being that Brownstein’s is a bit more prominent and projected.
I can finally check Wild Flag off of my bucket list but that certainly doesn’t rule them out for a repeat show. I enjoyed the performance, the songs and the general vibe of the room so much, that they will certainly be seeing me in their crowd again and they should see you there as well.
by Angela Davis