Wild Flag + Love Of Diagrams + Blank Realm @ The Zoo, 11.03.2012

By the time I get to The Zoo, Blank Realm have already started. Walking up the stairs of the venue they already sound really good but then I realise that I’ve probably seen them most often at Woodland with its terrible sound. They’ve always been good and I’ve always really enjoyed seeing them but everything is so much better tonight is a better room with better sound.

As far as I can recall, it’s my first time seeing Love Of Diagrams, although I know the name and have seen bassist Antonia Sellbach play a few times with Beaches (what’s happened to Beaches? Such a good band). I haven’t heard much about them in a while though so guess that this is either the start of a comeback and upcoming new material or I just haven’t been paying enough attention to news stories and message boards in recent times. Based on their performance it looks like my first theory is correct as they seem really off the pace and don’t give the sort of performance you would expect from a band that’s been playing shows regularly. There’s long pauses between the songs as the band tune up and little in the way of banter to break the silences between songs.

Earlier in the night it looked like Wild Flag were going to be on course to break Love Is All’s record for the least attended gig at the Zoo by an international headliner. The thought of someone coming all the way to Brisbane and playing in front of maybe 40 people is a depressing one. [writing this post ten or so days later it’s even more depressing to find out that The Beards have sold out a show here next month. Sometimes you just have to despair for Brisbane and it’s music tastes]. Are the numbers low because it’s a Sunday night? Brisbane is renown for its collective allergy to advance tickets sales, with people preferring not to commit under they actually arrive at a venue. Has everyone had too big a weekend? Is it because they haven’t been played much on triple j or had much attention anywhere else in Australia. Sleater-Kinney played the first BDO I went to back in 2006 and there’s a few people in S-K t-shirts tonight but given that that was more than six years ago and the band are all in their very late 30s and older it doesn’t really fit in with triple j’s target demographic. It’s a shame as tonight the band are superb.

I’m completely blown over as having only heard a couple of songs it just wasn’t what I was expecting. It’s like a cross between a 60s girl band and The Who. The guitar playing is incredible (and coming of the back of seeing St Vincent the previous night, it’s been a knockout weekend of female guitarists), the guitar harmonies between Carrie Brownstein and Mary Timony, Brownstein’s full on soloing, the onstage interplay between the two guitarists and all the rock poses. They encore with Television’s See No Evil, with Brownstein andTimony emulating Tom Verlaine’s and Richard Lloyd’s mid-song guitar duel with aplomb. Television would be another obvious reference point for the band and The Who comparison has more to do with Janet Weiss’s superb drumming throughout, the vocal harmonies, with all four of the band singing, and the intricacies of the songs, verging on The Who’s mini-operas and the ferocious-ness of it all. I just wasn’t expecting it to be that fierce. Although the venue fills up by the time Wild Flag starts, it was still less than half full, but it could easily become one of those “I was there shows”. You could definitely roll out the obligatory street press cliché about everyone walking into the night with smiles on their faces. It’s just such a shame that it was so terrible to photograph with the lighting as bad as I’ve ever seen at The Zoo and with 3/4s of the group in playing in the dark and the backlighting making it even more problematic. I would have loved to have gotten something a whole lot better given how much I enjoy the night.

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