The Chicagoist will be launching later but in the meantime please enjoy our archives.

Double-Whammy: Wild Flag and Hospitality

By Kim Bellware in Arts & Entertainment on Apr 4, 2012 4:20PM

Hospitality (from L-R, bassist Brian Betancourt, singer/guitarist Amber Papini and percussionist Nathan Michel / photo courtesy of Merge Records)

After a fast and ferocious breakout, Wild Flag visited Chicago several times last year and brought the house down every chance they had. From headlining last summer's Wicker Park Fest to a two-night packed house stint at the Empty Bottle, the incomparable foursome of names you already know--Carrie Brownstein, Janet Weiss, Mary Timony and Rebecca Cole--Wild Flag handily beat the shit out of any show you saw in 2011.

Yet as much as we're stoked for the group's sold-out show at Metro Thursday, we're just as excited for their opener, Brooklyn-based Hospitality. Excited, absolutely, and a little curious given the two groups rather disparate sounds. Wild Flag is on the punk rock jag, mixing semi-unusual indie composition with the '60s garage music edginess, all rolled together with some elements of good ol' pop. Hospitality, meanwhile, has a jammy, sweet and positively poppy sound, roughed up on the back end with overdrive, thumping bass and a little well-placed scuzz.

The differences will likely make for a rich dynamic of sweet and hard, of sunny and edgy, but it'll also be a bit of a mindfuck; imagine a bill in which Belle and Sebastian opened for the White Stripes.

Hospitality's debut album, released early this year, is nugget of pop rock fun that dabbles with twee and shoegaze elements but never gets too cloyingly sweet. The bit of musical DNA Hospitality shares with Wild Flag is the guitar jangle that goes from beach-y to buzz-saw in a few key spots. When things get heavy, it's never in the forefront--that belongs exclusively to front woman Amber Papini, whose melodic vocals, styled after The Psychedelic Furs' Richard Butler (Papini originally hails from Kansas City), add playfulness and heft to Hospitality's bittersweet tunes.

Hospitality's range is something like an all-you-can-eat dessert buffet for the listener, giving you everything you want, and all at once. For lovers of sailing, sweet vocals, Papini is a constant. Pop-driven organ and piano, and shredding guitar--with a quick-tick percussion to boot--are all tucked into the same song. Half the fun in listening is not knowing whether to swoon, sway, jump or shimmy. And while other bands can sound too scattered using the same strategy, Hospitality nails the blend with perfection.

Both bands are guaranteed to rock, but each in their distinct way. To get the most of this great bill, come prepared with everything: your best hip shake, shoe scoot and devil horns. You're going to need all three.

Hospitality and Wild Flag plays at Metro, 3730 N. Clark Thursday, May 5. 9:30 p.m., 21+ Sold Out