by Jonathan Rosado
Despite the muggy weather Friday night, there was a long line that meandered from the Prospect Park bandshell, where Celebrate Brooklyn hosted an exhibition of punk rock and its many guises. Ted Leo, normally backed by his band The Pharmacists, started out the night playing solo, commanding attention with his unique brand of fast-paced pop-punk. He switched between singing over gritty quick hooks and letting the guitar have its moment with speedy solos. His songs ranged from quick choppy punk songs to slower ballads, and even though he only played for 40 minutes, Ted managed to burn through eleven songs that set the tone for the night.
Introduced as an influential post-punk band that played CBGB's frequently during the heart of the punk movement, Mission of Burma fortified their reputation with a tight, loud set. Guitarist Roger Miller abused his guitar, slapping and sliding on the neck with ferocity. In doing so, he created a wall of crunchiness that rivaled a Vlasic kosher dill. Clint Conley's deep powerful bass lines provided the foundation for Peter Prescott's emphatic drumming, melding together with Miller's erratic-yet-awesome guitar playing. Their set featured much of their historic punk sound, but also left you feeling weightless, floating through space. Without a roof for them to tear off, Mission of Burma tore a new hole in the already porous ozone layer high above Brooklyn.
The fabulous and talented ladies of Wild Flag closed the show, the stage flocked by those who came to see them in action. The dual-guitar attack of Carrie Brownstein (of Portlandia fame) and Mary Timony created a dance-punk sound that filled the sticky air with lush melodies and moving bodies. When they weren't churning out viciously catchy melodies and leads, they were instead delving into a pseudo-grunge sound undoubtedly influenced by their Northwestern roots. Brownstein brought feistiness to the stage with her wailing voice, chunky guitar riffs and constant leg kicks. Timony, on the other hand, provided a softer melodic cloud for the rest of the music to sit on. Janet Weiss and Rebecca Cole rounded out the music with bouncy drum fills and poppy keys and bass tones, respectively. They did a solid job of balancing energetic songs harmoniously shouted in unison, with extended instrumentals that not just satisfied, but enthralled. At one point, the crowd joined in with the band, singing "Happy Birthday" to an embrassed Rebecca for her 41st birthday.
Wild Flag rounded out the night with an encore of NYC-themed covers, leaving the stage to a flurry of cheers from a crowd that didn't want the night to end.
More pics on the photo page.