Last night, though my desire for a post-work cat nap could not be quelled, I made it to the Wild Flag show at the Black Cat. Wild Flag is a relatively new effort by four women, two of which are ex-members of the iconic riot grrl band Sleater-Kinney, Carrie Brownstein and Janet Weiss. The other two band members, Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole have been involved with their own awesome bands such as Helium and The Minders, respectively. Despite the fact that they have yet to release an album and in their own words, are touring right now to kind of figure things out before hitting the studio for a full length release, the show sold out. The band did not disappoint. The openers, Yellowfever and The Aquarium, were pretty mellow and seemed tame in comparison to the melodic noisefest that followed. It has been a long time since I saw a stage full of women look so completely comfortable in their own skin. Watching four seasoned performers work the stage, the crowd, and each other was a genuine treat. 

It was interesting to watch the band as a whole. Wild Flag is it’s own entity, however it’s almost impossible not to see or hear them without waxing nostalgic for S-K. While everyone was singing in Sleater-Kinney, Corin Tucker was really the main front person.  For Wild Flag, Brownstein seemed to have the lead on vocals in addition to rocking the guitar. Her voice is unmistakable and last night ranged from that low, kind of almost bored tone that I associate with Northwestern music from the 90s to a wild, all out scream. It was great to hear her live again. Janet Weiss is one of my two favorite drummers to watch (the other being Samantha Maloney who I managed to catch back in the day with Shift before she played for the likes of Hole and Motely Crue) and she was all over the place, hair flying, sticks a blur. At one point I think Rebecca Cole was literally punching keys with her fists moving up and down the keyboard. The highlight of the night had to be when the band jammed out, maybe 3/4 of the way through the show. DC native, Mary Timony raised her guitar over her head to catch feedback repeatedly, fighting her guitar strap and the cords to her amp. The sound was amazing. The action was at once sensual and needy and defiant. At that moment she was visibly, 100% invested in the sound and led the crowd in with her. Together the band, the crowd, the bartenders, everybody was swaddled in the reverberations of four women rocking the fuck out.

Recently I have heard more than one of my friends wax nostalgic for the 90s – for grunge and riot grrrls, and well, angst. Sure, part of it is probably just a desire to relive that portion of our lives when we were younger and there seemed to be more possibility. But more than that, this music for me was part of a movement; It was overly feminist. I remember watching Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder on MTV, flailing around the stage, writing Pro-Life on his arm as he jumped from a chair. The riot grrrls movement was a big, musical fuck you to all of society. No pasty-white all male hardcore band of the same era had half as much of an excuse to scream angrily on stage as the ladies. They sang songs about friends who had been assaulted, about reproductive politics, about not taking anybody’s shit. There was an inherent confidence about the music I was listing to in the 90s. Even when it was overtly personal, there was power in the sharing of emotion.

Despite the fact that I’m a feminist, and pretty much surround myself with feminists in my personal life, I miss having almost an entire genre of music that touts feminist ideals.  Am I removed from it because I’m old and out of the loop? Is there a new crop of feminist music and art to carry today’s generation of girls into adulthood?

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