Last Night: Why? at the Great American Music Hall
Great American Music Hall
Friday, August 29
Review By Melissa Baron
Better than: Any other hipster show you went to last night.
From the outside, last night's Why? show came off as any other San Francisco hipster event - what with a startling abundance of bicycles (especially fixies) strapped to every pole, tree and meter in front of the Great American Music Hall. Hoards of trendy kids were lined up at the door, schmoozing each other and pretending to look awesome while waiting for their one asshole friend to get off work and come hang out at the show.
So what makes this show more remarkable than your average hipster dance party in the Mission? Most noticeably, the venue. Why? blossomed enough to sell out a show at the GAMH even though they haven't released a new album and they did so without losing any credibility as a band. Aaand, they're local! Awesome. They maintain status as one of those remarkable bands that continue to gain popularity without being chastised for doing so. Perhaps they can do it because they continue to get better with each album.
The boys present an anomaly in independent music, their first full length Oaklandazulasylum was good, the second Elephant Eyelash was great and Alopecia was impeccable. Anticon Records fostered some outrageous talent in Yoni, Josiah, Doug and Austin.
The most interesting aspect of Why?'s live performance is the way their intricate instrumentals translate from a recording into a live show. When listening to their albums it's easy to forget that all those little noises have to come from somewhere. Turns out, most of them come from xylophones played by the Wolf brothers. Recorded, the instrument can be easily cleaned up, but live it has a more raw and metallic clank which perfectly suits Yoni's unique voice. The band seems to put people in a bit of a trance. Everyone rocks back and forth, singing along until that one lyrical focal point of the song where everyone belts out the lyrics together. It's bizarre, but the lyrics draw everyone in.
The transition from the openers into Why? did not go nearly as well as their set did. The band invited Becky Wolf, younger sister of Yoni and Josiah onto the stage to do a stand up routine. She first presented her idea of "Alopecia: the Musical" in which many high school theater kids would pile into their auditorium in Phantom of the Opera masks surrounding one kid belting out the album. She then informed the audience that as the younger sister of the band she loved attention and that's why her titties were out ("TITTIES!"). People very quickly grew restless waiting for Why? and attempted to boo her off stage (I found her amusing) but she wasn't having it.
"Hey guess what, I have a microphone and you don't; I'm related to the band and you are a douche bag." Take that assholes! Her brothers encouraged her to continue but she replied that she didn't even feel like it because the audience was full of dicks. Yoni raged at the audience and told those in attendance that everyone who felt like disrespecting and booing could "get the fuck out." Now that's family.
For those of you heartbroken because you missed the show, here's the set list:
1) The Hollows
2) Yo Yo Bye Bye
3) Rubber Traits
4) The Fall of Mr. Fifths
5) Song of the Sad Assassin
6) The Hoofs
7) These Few Presidents
8) Good Friday
9) The Vowels, Pt 2
12) A Sky for Shooting Horses Under
14) Simeon's Dilemma
1) Fall Saddles
2) By Torpedo or Crohn's
Personal Bias: I had the world's shittiest day at work prior to this show and couldn’t have been more ready to get my jam on. I also wish they would have played "Crushed Bones."
Random Detail: During the 90’s there was a band named Why? from West Country in England. They played Christian folk and became popular within the genre.
By the way: The boys head down to LA on September 4 and then tour around the US until early October.