Saturday, April 5, 2014

WHY? @ The Demo

Phone-quality photo courtesy of Stefanie Cook
Three friends and I drove four hours from Iowa City to spend one night in the St. Louis area and see the band WHY?. Was it ridiculous? Illogical? Awesome? Yes to all.

Google maps guided us from my home in St. Charles to the Grove neighborhood downtown. The show was at The Demo, a small club that usually hosts local shows. On this night, it was packed with music fans, approximately half of whom had septum piercings. The opener was a well-known local act called Bo and the Locomotive. They were missing something like 40% of their band. On this night, the group consisted of two guitars, bass, and vocals. The guitar-fest made their songs sound similar, but they had promise. I'd like to see them as a full band.

WHY? is currently a six member group. A rhodes piano, bass, glockenspiel, sometimes guitar, and two drummers with various percussion instruments including xylophone. Then there's Jonathan "Yoni" Wolf, the rapper at the core of the group. On stage, the combination of his curly hair and mustache empowers a weird and alluring swagger. His lyrics are simultaneously personal (in one of the many places you're not, I am / hiding from my friends in the bathroom at Thrift Town to write this tune down) and abstract (good god, what the hell, what the fuck / a white dove on the hood of a two-ton truck.) While the band provides angelic background vocals, everything unifies into a groovy, rhythmic chaos.

The show was strange and danceable. Despite having to pause for a technical problem half-way through the set, the audience did not waver and even encouraged a brief encore. Anyone willing to stick around had the opportunity to meet the band members hanging out in the venue and working the merch table. They were all friendly and grateful for the praise.

Here's their music video for "Strawberries."

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