Doug Fir

The restraint was admirable, the mark of a true show womyn. She wanted to go for it, you could tell. Right from the start, a stiff rendition of “Electric Band” that could’ve used a little razzle and/or dazzle.

A confluence of events might have brought her out hard: playing Portland, her adopted hometown, the second of two sold-out shows, celebrating the release of the band’s debut album, at a venue where she filmed a video… But she hung back. She teased. Little half spins and looping forearms throughout “Short Version” and “Future Crimes.”

Somewhere in there—I was too absorbed in the mysterious strain on the face of her co-singer/guitarist Mary Timony to know for sure—she loosed the arm and let it fly. I suspect it was during the jammed out version of “Glass Tambourine,” the b-side from the band’s first single, a song smudged up with the fingerprints of producer Britt Daniel, the Spoon singer.

I’m sure that first full windmill was a great moment. I was just too busy trying to figure out if Timony was, in fact, agitated about something, or if she’s just one of those singers who looks a bit pained performing. It was the former, I’m fairly certain, as at one point she got a little passive aggressive about the band not pausing for her to tune her guitar as called for on the setlist. â€œSome of us read,” she joked. Feet shuffled uncomfortably, eyes looked groundward.

Everything coalesced, then craftily dissolved, in "Racehorse" the sort of not altogether unpleasant but still kinda blah filler you’ve got to expect from a headlining act made up of veterans who’ve got only one album to draw from and more than an hour to fill. The lyrics tell the story: “Yeah I'm a racehorse/Yeah I'm a racehorse… Pony up, pony up/Pony up, pony up/Pony up, pony up/And ride, and ride, and ride, ride…”

Wild Flag’s course on the encore, capped by a cover of Television’s “I See No Evil,” was far better. Even Timony seemed to be having some fun.

And the arms, they flailed.