Photo by Eugenie Johnson
Why? is an introspective and distinctive band from Berkley, California. Their music is a rare execution of indie-rock, emotionally driven hip-hop and poly-rhythmic folk. They have released five brilliant albums, including their latest Moh Lhean (Anticton), which came out earlier this month. Their concert at Venue smack dab in the core of downtown Vancouver on Saturday night celebrated this new release and well selected previous work. The intimate show was notably juxtaposed by being at Venue, which typically caters to a top 40-club crowd. The audience was a polite group of sincere fans that were prepared for an emotional avalanche of a performance. The band’s configuration at this rather regal venue was an art piece in and of itself. Each member’s unique set up of electronic and acoustic instruments was draped with vintage light bulbs in a charmingly DIY manor. This impressive stage arrangement created an atmosphere astutely suited to their sound- comforting, powerful and rare. Lead singer Jonathan “Yoni” Wolf is an extraordinary songwriter, poet and singer and he commands a crowd effortlessly. Every person there was completely transfixed by the music as they sang along to their contentious lyrics and wiped tears from their cheeks. Why? concerts are not social dance parties. They are beautifully introspective experiences shared publicly. Their performance was an excellent balance of old and new songs gently shattering hearts, and then gracefully sewing them back together. They dynamic between band members, including brothers Yoni and Josiah is notably compassionate. Yoni’s witty banter on stage was a helpful break from the severely touching music echoing almost every member of the audience. Their lyrics explain abstract and uncomfortable feelings that one seldom can achieve describing, yet somehow, Why? manages to create catchy songs true to their emotional weight. To end the evening, Why?’s encore consisted of the band cuddling around a single microphone, armed with only their voices and a few acoustic instruments. They did quaint renditions of some of their more well know material to which the audience was held completely silent and frozen. What refreshingly frank music for a Granville St. Saturday night.