Dec 17, 2009

Why? @ Annandale Hotel

I only played chess once in my life and I lost. I have only seen Why? once in my life and I won. The Oakland collective were tight and strong Wednesday night at the Annandale Hotel. It's been a big week for live shows, starting off with Animal Collective and Akron/Family, but no doubt about it. Why? were every bit as good. Even though it was a short set, just on an hour, they were totally impressive. Strong and seductive, robust and powerful. They enraptured the audience, a very good one by the way, from the opening note to the last morsel of "The Hollows".

Yoni Wolf is some sort of clever guy. Starting Why? as virtually a solo project, his lyrics have always been fiercely intelligent and directly personal. He can write a good melody too. Something normally lacking in the world of hip hop. So are good songs in fact. This is the strength of Why?. The songs are great and they are true songs. Another strength is the band Yoni has assembled around him. They are seamless in their approach, all great musicians. Especially Yoni's brother Josiah on drums and the gorgeous marimba he played and also guest guitarist Andrew Broder. They hit stride straight away with "These Hands", from this year's wonderful "Eskimo Snow". This album got a fair hearing with the sublime "Against Me" being a highlight. But it was companion album "Alopecia" that stole the show. More heavily hip hop then "Eskimo Snow", these numbers were made for the stage. "Good Friday" was dark and dangerous, whilst "These Few Presidents" was near perfect. I also loved "A Sky For Shoeing Horses Under". It was great to hear some material from "Elephant Eyelash" as well. No "Crushed Bones" or "Fall Saddles", but we did get the kinetic "Yo Yo Bye Bye" and the bouncey "Rubber Traits". All material from these albums, though different, flowed perfectly into one another. There is a real tactile quality to the music of Why?. You can feel it in your hands and your throat. The heart as well. It is mature, thoughtful and damn exciting. This is nearly all due to Yoni Wolf. He has a real stage presence. Although he didn't say much, he didn't have to. He stalks the stage, owning it with his manners. His vocals are commanding and hit directly. Despite the sound quality not being perfect, what's new there, this was a totally enjoyable show. 2009 is finishing nicely.

Set List
These Hands
The Vowels Pt. 2
Rubber Traits
Against Me
Good Friday
These Few Presidents
January Twenty Something
A Sky For Shoeing Horses Under>Twenty-Eight
This Blackest Purse
The Fall Of Mr. Fifths
Yo Yo Bye Bye
By Torpedo Or Crohn's

Fatalist Palmistry
The Hollows


  • At December 17, 2009 , Anonymous Anonymous said...

    Without a doubt, the live highlight of the year! I have been lucky enough to see these guys twive before, but the current five piece band has a truely amazing sound


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