The all-woman lineup of Wild Flag consists of two of three members of Sleater-Kinney, along with the guitarist-singer of Helium and the keyboardist of the underappreciated Elephant 6 band the Minders. So, let’s face it: if you’re a certain kind of indie-rock fan, Wild Flag had you at “hello.”
But, as with so many supergroups, if you want Wild Flag to simply sound like the band members’ previous outfits, you will be surprised. Most different is singer-guitarist Carrie Brownstein. In Sleater-Kinney, she delivered half-spoken vocals that acted as counterpoint to her bandmate Corin Tucker’s air-raid siren of a voice. After Sleater-Kinney split up, Brownstein went on to blogging (for NPR) and comedy (she’s co-creator and co-star of the TV show Portlandia). Now that she’s returned to music, she sounds like a different singer. In “Boom,” her voice swoops and hiccups like a New Wave star. The lyrics seem to be about gender politics as they play out in the power balance between musician and fan — a theme that’s familiar from Sleater-Kinney. But where in the past she could sound a little too much like a grad student playing at being a rock star as an intellectual experiment, now she sounds like someone who owns the damn stage.
In the live setting, she does: She’s a force of nature, kicking, dancing, screaming through the whole set. Her energy is infectious, causing even her usually aloof cosinger-guitarist Mary Timony to smile and jump and rock out. As they stretch out the songs “Glass Tambourine” and “Racehorse” into psychedelic jams, they look like they’re having the time of their lives.
Drew Grow & the Pastors’ Wives open.
WILD FLAG: The Casbah, Tuesday, November 1, 8:30 p.m. 619-232-4355. $15.