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Review Wed Oct 01 2014

WHY? Undoubtedly Wowed Lincoln Hall

why.jpgOriginally, Why? was the solo project of Yoni Wolf, but with the release of the Sanddollars E.P. and Elephant Eyelash, Why? became a full band project. The music became cohesive melding of hip hop and indie rock, always moving between the two without being held down by either of them. His songs are colorful and verbose, creating intense imagery that never fails to impress. Why? came to Lincoln Hall this weekend for a two night stint, which he announced would be made up of two completely different set lists. I had the opportunity to see him on the first night and was blown away.

serengeti.jpgLocal favorite Serengeti, the stage name of Dave Cohn, came out with his natural humble demeanor. He immediately introduced himself and Ben Sloan, who would late be performing with Why? as well. It was the first time they've played together and they were great. The set list, which was particularly short, mostly stuck to songs off Family & Friends, which Yoni Wolf had a hand in producing. Cohn made note that he wanted to get right to the rest of the performers of the night, not realizing how much the crowd wanted to hear his take on hip hop. Serengeti's talkative flow makes him stand out above his peers, moving through intricate verses with ease and adding a memorable cadence to his hooks. The chorus of "California" wouldn't be as good under any other voice. The storytelling of "Long Ears" and "Goddammit" have a surprising earnestness as Cohn sways along slowly, feeling very word as it passes out of him. At the end of his set the crowd simply wanted more, but unfortunately Serengeti wanted the spotlight to be focused on the upcoming musicians.

dessa2.jpgNext up was Dessa from the Doomtree collective out of Minneapolis. Before she came out I overheard a huge amount of people saying they were at the show specifically for Dessa. This really didn't shock me, Dessa has been one of the more interesting rappers/singers/spoken word artists in recent memory and it was particularly obvious after her fantastic set. She began with "The Man I Knew", instantly showing off the best parts of her and the band. They performed with a mixture of mostly live elements and some underlying sounds to boost the already robust instrumentation.

dessa (2).jpgThere wasn't a moment where she wasn't and singing and rapping with explosion of unbridled energy. Much of that vigor comes from Dessa's incredibly personable lyrics, whether they were about lingering relationships in "Matches to Paper Dolls" or the safe haven found in "Alibi". There are moments were her singing and rapping merge, coming closer to a spoken word pieces that are as enthralling as her on/off stage antics. She ran out into the crowd for the end of a song and simply couldn't help cracking jokes, like exclaiming a "Good Morning, Chicago" to the crowd or stopping to take some glamor shots for photographers because she felt she looked aggro while performing. Dessa and crew finished off the set with "Fighting Fish" and much like Serengeti earlier, the crowd wanted more.

why2.jpgThose who came to see Dessa hung back a bit to let the more enthusiastic Why? followers take their place, moving closer and closer as the band made their way out. Yoni Wolf came with his whole band in tow, including his brother Josiah Wolf, Ben Sloan, Liz Wolf, and Doug McDiarmid. They quickly went to work on "The Fall of Mr Fifths", which grabbed the crowd with surprising ease. Why? had promised to span their band discography each night of his Chicago stop and held to that for the most part on Saturday night. The bakers dozen or so set leaned heavily on Elephant Eyelash, Alopecia, and Mumps,etc, sticking to some of the better known songs.

why4.jpgWolf's lyrics were sung back to him constantly by the very devoted crowd. Choruses of "Good Friday" and "These Few Presidents" Few Presidents" echoed like chants at a rally, urging everyone to let loose along with the band. The ending vowel switching cheerios of "The Vowel's Pt. 2" rang loud with an overpowering harmony, everyone jumping around to its bouncy rhythm. Honestly, it would be much easier to list the songs that the crowd didn't know by heart and weren't yelling out every word.

why 3.jpgYoni Wolf stage presence parallels the genre melding of his music. He can go from commanding MC to grooving indie rocker at the drop of a hat. He and the band hit an aesthetic peak during "Son of the Sad Assassin". The huge hexagon screen illuminated a trickling of blood submerged in water as Wolf droned the morose lyrics that evoke notorious killers Lee Harvey Oswald and Billy the Kid. His stilted movements and body cast in the darkened lighting played along so well with the song. Why? ended the night with "A Sky for Shoeing Horses Under" and the single encore song "Simeon's Dilemma" after an elongated wait and massive chants for the band.

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Feature Thu Dec 31 2015

Our Final Transmission Days

By The Gapers Block Transmission Staff

Transmission staffers share their most cherished memories and moments while writing for Gapers Block.

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  Chicago Music Media

Alarm Magazine
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