Why? at Village Underground
Cincinnati, Ohio-based alt hip-hop band Why? have created a clear niche for themselves. Playing in a packed-out, turn-of-the-century venue that is the Village Underground, the four-piece are comfortable whatever genre they play in, whether it be the anthem arena-filler sound of indie rock of previous album Alopecia, or the plaintive folk croons of their most recent release, Moh Lhean. Lead singer Yoni Wolf has a distinct nasal ring to his vocals, but this bodes well with his rapping, akin to fellow American hip-hop group Flobots.
Charming keys open the set, as Why? ease us into Easy, the third track off Moh Lhean. Tinged with melancholic undertones, Wolf’s vocals have a droll humour, and are raw in their melodies about everyday life, death being an integral theme in the lyrics, as he sings, “Even though I haven’t seen you in years, yours is a funeral I’d fly to from anywhere”. The band fluidly dip in and out of various genres, creating a kaleidoscopic mix of feelings: nostalgia, unadulterated joy and melancholia amongst others. The playful lyrics work in their favour, complementing the cute synth and percussion, producing a song list that coalesces into a whole, an evolutionary process of feelings, one minute happy go lucky, the next morose, but never fully collapsing into despair. As the set progresses, popular track The Vowels, Pt 2 produces a rapturous chant from the audience, as together we sing, “Cheeri-A Cheeri-E Cheeri-I Cheeri-O Cheeri-U”.
Towards the end of the gig, George Washington infuses subterranean whale sounds with the electric guitar, creating a feeling of oceanic calm. Why? are a band in their element when it comes to mixing genres and offering an array of songs that cover many different human emotions and situations. By this point, the audience is riled into a joyous frenzy, when the four of them return to the stage for the encore, joined by support act Tall, Tall Trees, who appears with his unique neon-lit banjo. Together, they play an acoustic set of songs, in an almost a capella style, completing the set with Barely Blur. There’s once again a resounding cheer, when they announce we are the best audience of the UK tour. All in all, an enjoyable set from one of Ohio’s coolest bands.
Photos: Nick Bennett
For further information about Why? and future events visit here.
Watch the video for Barely Blur here: