WHY? at The Granada

On March 1st I went to Lawrence, Kansas to interview Yoni Wolf, the lead singer of WHY? (which you can listen to here). Of course I had to stick around for the concert, as well.

I haven’t been to The Granada in awhile, so I’d forgotten how much I liked the venue. I stood father back so I could get some photos of the band, and ended up having a great view. Plus there were quite a few people there and it didn’t feel cramped.

The first opener was Lawrence-natives, Dropjaw, which is a little funny considering WHY? has a song named “Dropjaw”. The band consisted of a rapper and two background “singers”, that would spit beats/repeat words in the background. Overall they seemed kind of awkward on stage, and the background singers seemed bored. It just wasn’t the kind of rap that I’m into. The lead singer was rocking a dress, though, so that was cool.

The second opener was Florist, a two-piece indie band from Brooklyn. The lead singer’s voice reminded me of a mix of Frankie Cosmos and Julien Baker, and the music is just vocals and acoustic guitars. I found their music to be wonderfully simplistic and beautiful, and they’re definitely a band I want to revisit when I want to destress and relax.

Finally, WHY? came onstage. If you haven’t listened to them before, their choices of openers might be confusing. This is one of the most versatile bands I’ve ever heard. They switched from rap to alternative to borderline techno, so there was pretty much something everyone could enjoy.

They started out with “Bad Entropy” which sounds almost more like a spoken word poem than a rap. I thought it was a suprising way to start the concert, but it worked well. This was followed up with “Brook & Waxing” and “Crushed Bones” before completely switching it up with “This Ole King”. I have no idea how to describe the genre of this song. It’s very beat-heavy, and the harmonies are amazing. It’s definitely one of my favorite songs of theirs.

I forgot to describe the stage. The background was a galaxy color of blues and purples, with specks of white paint, and there was a green light on Yoni Wolf through pretty much the entire show. All the instruments had Edison bulbs on them, and during some songs (including this one) they flashed on and off. Besides shows that have video backgrounds (like Two Door Cinema Club and Fleet Foxes) I think this was my favorite stage setup. It really worked for the band, no matter what style of music they were playing.

They played a few more songs, slipping in some more rap again with “Waterlines” and “Gnashville”, before slowing it down with “January Twenty Something” and “Easy”.

They quickly sang vocals-only rendition of “January February March” before transitioning to “One Mississippi” (which repeats “January February March” in it).

The “final song” was obviously their most popular song, “The Vowels Pt. 2”. The drummer rhythmically dropped chains on his drumkit, and then during the chorus played the drums while also shaking a maraca. It was very impressive and cool to see.

They encored with acoustic versions of “Yo Yo Bye Bye” while everyone sang along. I almost prefer that version to the original, so it’d be cool if they released it as a single. It was a very lowkey way to end the concert, which, again, was risky but I ended up loving it.

Usually I get a little annoyed if bands don’t interact with the audience, but it was a Thursday night and people needed to get sleep for work/school. Plus they definitely provided a lot of entertainment with their music and visuals. This is the first concert I’ve been to in 2018, and WHY? definitely set the bar high.

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