The Bowery Ballroom
WILD FLAG

WILD FLAG

Eleanor Friedberger, Hospitality

Tue, October 18, 2011

Doors: 7:30 pm / Show: 8:30 pm

The Bowery Ballroom

New York, NY

$15

Sold Out

This event is 18 and over

WILD FLAG
WILD FLAG
Wild Flag is a Portland, Oregon- and Washington, DC-based quartet consisting of Carrie Brownstein, Rebecca Cole, Mary Timony, and Janet Weiss. The members of Wild Flag have played in numerous and notable bands including Sleater-Kinney, Helium, Quasi, The Minders, Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks, and others.
The four musicians who make up Wild Flag have known one another for well over a decade. Brownstein and Weiss were in Sleater-Kinney and toured with Timony’s band Helium on numerous occasions. Brownstein and Timony played in a side project called The Spells. Rebecca Cole’s Portland-based band The Minders was a frequent opener for Sleater-Kinney. Weiss and Cole play together in the 1960’s garage-rock cover band The Shadow Mortons. If someone drew a visual representation illustrating the ways in which all indie bands are interconnected, Brownstein, Cole, Timony, and Weiss would be in the same tiny sphere, so playing together felt almost inevitable. After collaborating on a score for a documentary, the ease with which they worked together proved infectious and promising. Future practices were scheduled, songs were written, Wild Flag was formed.
Yet even after the members of Wild Flag became intentional about playing together—and Mary was flying from DC to practice in Portland—the band was hesitant about naming this endeavor. Yes, they knew how to be in bands, but not in this band. Wild Flag wanted to figure out dynamics, hear how the songs breathed in a live context, build cohesion and unity, and emerge as a singular force prior to putting those sounds onto tape. Wild Flag always intended to grow organically, never wanting to take for granted that an audience existed based on previous endeavors. So, instead of recording an album and then playing shows, they went on various tours, playing tiny club shows in the US and building up a fervent audience of their own.
In April of 2011, they went to Sacramento, California, where they recorded their self-titled album with engineer Chris Woodhouse at the Hangar. All tracks were recorded live except for the vocals
Eleanor Friedberger
Eleanor Friedberger
At a time when most female singer-songwriters perform as alter egos, Eleanor Friedberger is simply, refreshingly herself. And that’s just the way her fans like it. Having spent the last decade fronting the indie-rock institution The Fiery Furnaces (currently on hiatus) with her brother Matthew, in 2011 she emerged as a formidable solo artist with Last Summer, a thoughtfully crafted tale of memory and place couched in the organic pop of her ’70s idols. Instantly, Friedberger established herself as a modern-day heir to the tradition of Donovan, Todd Rundgren, Ronnie Lane, and their ilk: Warm, nuanced, timeless songs. No gimmicks necessary.

The title of Friedberger’s sophomore album is Personal Record, and it is, in a sense. Personal, that is. But not personal in the way of, say, a coming-of-age record, or a diary about the past, which Last Summer was. Many of the songs seem to be about love, or love lost, but whether any of the experience is hers or someone else’s, she isn’t saying. “It’s not as specific a narrative this time,” she says. “There’s a universality to it.” So incisive are the lyrics, in fact, that Friedberger’s bassist incorrectly assumed that two of the songs were about him. “I loved that,” she says. “I want him to feel like the songs are about him. I want you to feel like the songs are about you.”

The term “personal record” also refers to an athlete’s best, and the double entendre is apt. An intense decade-plus of touring and recording has burnished Friedberger’s voice and imbued her songwriting with newfound depth; there’s a maturity and mellifluousness to this outing that feels downright epic. It was always the Eleanor-penned songs that gave the Furnaces’ albums their most poignant and graceful moments, especially in later work like I’m Going Away. Last Summer took that promise into full flower; Personal Record “is part of the same growth process,” she says. Faced with a six-month gap between the completion of Last Summer and its release and accompanying tour, Friedberger holed up at home in Brooklyn; by the time the tour started, she had twelve new songs to road-test. Though most bands work this way, the Furnaces didn’t. For Friedberger, touring with the unreleased material allowed her to flesh out a more rollicking, full sound from the get-go. “By the time I came home,” she says, “I knew exactly what I wanted the songs to sound like.”

She reunited with Last Summer producer Eric Broucek (the DFA-trained emerging talent whose clients include !!!, Hercules and Love Affair, and Jonny Pierce) to expand upon the warm, textured atmosphere of their first collaboration. Tracking began in fall 2012 with a week at Plantain Studios, the West Village home of DFA. To Friedberger’s favored electric pianos and classic-rock guitars, they added a menagerie including an upright bass, an alto flute, a bass clarinet, and even a portative organ. (It’s a device made of several recorders and a bellows in a frame that looks like a wooden castle. Or, actually, like Howl’s Moving Castle.)

Production then resumed at Broucek’s home studio in the Los Angeles hills, where the rest of the record was completed in just ten days. As the songs filled out, Friedberger went full-out in immersing herself in her romantic vision of that city. “I was just listening to Fleetwood Mac and Neil Young, driving around in a borrowed Prius,” she says. “Walking along Point Dume, playing tennis at Griffith Park.... I ate hippie food every day. Lots of lentils.”

The sun-warmed languor of the West Coast and its golden age of rock ’n’ roll shines through in Personal Record. It’s the aural equivalent of an afternoon jaunt up the PCH in an orange BMW 2002, fist pumping into the wind. “When I Knew” and “Stare at the Sun” rock out like the Furnaces’ finest, but with that unmistakable Eleanor gracefulness. “Echo or Encore” is a lilting love ballad underlaid with with a bossa nova beat. “I Am the Past” evokes the mystical side of the Me Decade with meandering bass clarinet and a balls-out flute solo (seriously). Though Friedberger may harbor a bit of a ’70s fetish, there’s an idiosyncrasy and intimacy to her music that’s undeniably modern. Above all, it’s pretty. “It’s such a romantic album to me,” Friedberger says. “But more so than love for another person, it’s really about a love of music.”
Hospitality
Hospitality
The first thing you might notice about Hospitality’s sophomore album Trouble is what you don’t hear. The process of completing Trouble was, for the band, one of learning to accept silence, to let that empty space exist no matter what it might awaken or evoke. You could catch glimpses of these dark and unexplored places in the margins of Hospitality’s 2012 self-titled debut, but they are at the very heart of Trouble. If you listen closely, you can hear a band pushing against their own boundaries and limitations until they find the very air around them subtly but perceptibly changed.

The trio of Amber Papini (guitar, vocals), Brian Betancourt (bass), and Nathan Michel (drums) approach Trouble with the force and unity of a well-rehearsed touring rock band. They supplement their performances with strategically placed strings, synthesizers, and drum machines. But silence is an inescapable force on Trouble, an invisible fourth player that draws you into the unexplored corners of familiar sounds: the full, ghostly decay of a reverb tail, the round pluck of a bass string, the exact syllables where a doubled vocal line diverges.

In its lyrics and its musical construction, Trouble is an album that wonders about the mysteries that lurk just beyond our field of vision. Slyly and sympathetically, Papini ponders a Saturday afternoon fishing trip as a wrenching interplay of life and death, the perfect blue sky at an air show as a setting for a soured romance. Papini elaborates: “Most of the songs are about everyday environments that arouse anxiety or unease. The ocean isn’t meant for people; we aren’t supposed to be there, and some of the animals that live there are much bigger and faster than we are in the water. I think a lot of the songs deal with this ‘out of place’ kind of theme, feelings of unease and the questions of what is under you or what surrounds you.”

Trouble creates a space where conflicting sentiments and experiences are given room to coexist, where small and seemingly mundane observations pose big questions that hang in the air, unanswered and unanswerable. With a title referencing the artist’s endless struggle in the battle between creativity and outside forces, Trouble also explores the universal themes of loss, love, and loneliness with Papini’s trademark wit. Lines like “And if I’m lost and low / And need you / I’ll disconnect the line” from “Inauguration” somehow make the ultimate kiss-off seem charming, while nature makes clear the loneliness felt when leaving someone you love behind in these lines from “I Miss Your Bones”: “And all the stars will / Twinkle in the midst of a sea / Of black and lonely /An everlasting loss lack abyss.”

It’s fitting that the album was hashed out in band practices that blurred the boundaries between work and leisure, darkness and light, creative collaboration and friendship. Foregoing the usual nighttime hours kept by musicians, the band chose to work on these songs during daily morning rehearsals that proved in many ways more demanding than characteristically relaxed nighttime gatherings. Through these sessions, the band sought to take their music as far as they possibly could as a three-piece, to make sure that every small gesture fell into place and played a vital role in constructing the shape and feel of the songs.

The band carried this daylight-infused clearheadedness with them into the studio with chief arranger Nathan Michel and engineer Matt Boynton acting as co-producers. Nathan describes the process: “We really wanted to avoid the ornamental, but I always like to add more sounds. Matt was helpful in keeping the arrangements as simple and direct as possible. We all wanted the record to have a warm and open sound.” When put to tape, some of the songs for Trouble worked better than expected as fierce and focused trio performances, while others called for more substantial reimaginings. “I Miss Your Bones” emerged almost entirely from a live performance, while “Inauguration” found the band ripping apart their live arrangement and reconstructing the song with drum machines and synthesizers.


The album unfolds like a walk on the beach or a journey to a place you didn’t know you were going. Perhaps a darker sound overall, but Trouble begins with the trademark Hospitality pop then unfurls to reward the listener with the more expansive stripped-down instrumentation of side B. And here, again, is that distinctively present silence, creating a space where an undulating synthesizer feels as alive and mysterious as a single voice in a room.
Venue Information:
The Bowery Ballroom
6 Delancey St
New York, NY, 10002
http://www.boweryballroom.com/