Photo Credit: April Seise
As Open Mike Eagle concluded his intimate, raw and emotional set, more and more fans packed into the back of The Regent Theater awaiting the question to which they already had their answer. The members of WHY? took their places on stage, as a serene and easy-flowing energy permeated through the crowd. The plainly dressed players, styled in sweatshirts, jeans and hats that brought back memories of The Sandlot, arranged themselves in a semi-circle so as to not hold any one member in the spotlight. After greeting all of Los Angeles, they immediately broke into “Easy,” off their new album Moh Lhean. Acting as the guardian, opening the gates of wonder and lowly optimism to the castle of WHY?, “Easy” assured the sea of fans they were in for smooth sailing and light-footed dancing.
In a seamless transition, a journey of guitar chords backed by a marching drum announced the arrival of “This Ole King” — also off Moh Lhean. Lead singer Yoni Wolf bellowed the opening lines “untethered layers, so thin as paper,” instantly transforming the theater into a damp forest with the twinkling lights of the stage guiding its occupants, as people danced and sang behind the pied piper who manned the synths and at times kept the rhythm steady with the beat of his own drum (both literally and figuratively). Without much time or talking in between songs, WHY? kept the vibes both light and heavy as the music took show-goers up and away while the lyrics dove deep. Taking the audience back to the group’s 2005 album, Elephant Eyelash, “Gemini,” which details Wolf’s experience with an ex, saw him rap poetically, peculiarity taking us into the life of two lovers whose lives seemed to be swimming in different directions. As it goes, this was somewhat of a turning point in the show, where a crescendo had built and peaked in a once loving relationship, followed by the lowering of the landing gear as the final descent approached.
There was a brief pause in the action as Yoni moved from stage left to the center to thank the opening acts and the fans. Meanwhile, the backdrop fluttered with shades of blue and red, as streams of white light crossed in front of and in back of him. WHY? ended the initial set with “Barely Blur,” which also happens to be the final track on Moh Lhean. As the closing words, “Hold on what’s going on / hold on,” echoed and stretched into the night, the lights dimmed, forming a feeling of wonder, begging us to entertain our own questions that live deep inside. A call for an encore was imminent and of course WHY? obliged. A sweeping acoustic set, featuring “The Hoofs,” “The Hollows” and “Simeon’s Dilemma,” kept everyone’s emotions on edge. Stage lights off, theater lights on, we are all home again, back from a musical abduction that took us to a beach on a distant planet on which we learned so much.
This Ole King
These Few Presidents
Gemini (Birthday Song)
Song Of The Sad Assassin / Gnashville
The Vowels Pt. 2
The Barely Blur