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Review Wed Jul 29 2015

Yoni Wolf and Serengeti End Their Rap Tour at Schubas

yoniwolf.jpgYoni Wolf's musical output has consistently straddled the line between hip hop and indie rock. His band Why? is a great amalgamation of the two genres, never settling on either one. I was introduced to Wolf through acts like Greenthink and cLOUDEAD. Those groups definitely leaned heavier on the hip hop genre their influence is very apparent on Wolf's current work. So seeing him embark on a solo tour not only makes sense, it's a necessary treat. This weekend he brought the end of his tour with the Chicago favorite Serengeti to Schubas, where they put on a pair of crowd pleasing alternative hip hop sets.

daveserengeti.jpgOver the past year I've seen Serengeti perform quite a bit and in that time his stage presence has grown progressively. The first couple of shows had him rapping over instrumentals off his iPod, which had a quirky charm to them. When he last opened for Yoni Wolf's band Why?, he had a live drummer accompany him on stage. It added a very audible depth, allowing a little more improvisation and change ups to his verses. This time around he had an even fuller set up that included guitar, drums, and live beats that really made Serengeti stand out. "Devotion", the first song of the night, was particularly affected by the added instrumentation. It's actually a little ironic because it was stripped down from its louder and more complex original. It was slowed down and turned to a loving and emotionally gripping ballad of a track.

daveserengeti2.jpgSerengeti stuck to some his best and most well-known tracks throughout the night, eventually finding himself turning into his oddest and greatest creation, the simple man known as Kenny Dennis. He let out a taste of this persona early on in the evening, yelling into the crowd in the heavy Chicago accent Dennis carries with him. He lead his persona through crowd pleasers "No Beginner" and "Dennehy" with an effortless cool. I'm pretty sure the audience could have rapped the entirety of the tracks themselves as Serengeti let them take over the choruses. There nothing sweeter than Chicago sports teams being roll called by an entire room after declaring their daily diet: "Hotdog for lunch/hotdog for dinner/Don't eat breakfast".

yoniwolf2.jpgYoni Wolf's set was reminiscent of the earlier Serengeti shows I've seen. Wolf stood alone on stage with only his MacBook by his side. It was incredibly minimalistic, putting the spotlight solely on Wolf. He went straight into a reworked version of the why track "The Fall Of Mr. Fifths" that completely took every off guard. Wolf paraded across the stage so determined and spat out the verses in such rapid succession that it was impossible for the not to fall into a similarly determined sway. Everyone could tell it was going to be a fun set once the song ended and he began to riff like a madmen while is mic and cord were replaced. The fun continued at end of the very early Why track "Bad Entropy", Wolf did quick karate kicks to add an exclamation point to the song. Wolf's stage presence has always been great, but as a solo act he's stranger and somehow more affable.

yoniwolf3.jpgThe entire crowd was intimately familiar with Wolf's tracks, with whispers of approval at the beginning of nearly every song once they realized what the beat and lyrics were heading to. So it's safe to say they didn't need to hear old cLOUDEAD tracks, but they surely wanted them. The two back to back cLOUDEAD songs "Jimmy Breeze" and "Rifle Eyes" were met with mesmerized attention. "Good Friday" was introduced as a remix, one that focused hard getting a quicker flow on it. Wolf maneuvered through the lyrics like the pro that he's, casting far away from the version I saw him play last year with Why. The same amazing flow happened with the version of "Waterlines". It's not that the rhythm of the originals is off, but Wolf's transition to more straight forward rap pieces lets a different side of them shine.

Yoni continued his set and antics for a few more songs, relishing in the crowd's response. When he introduced a song off Hymie's Basement, an old project from 2003, the majority of the crowd cheered. "You guy know way too much about me" he quipped but one could tell it was the reaction he knew he'd get. Wolf ended his set with "Deceived" and immediately headed straight to his merch table along with Serengeti to meet what he likely knew would be a long line of fans. He talked with everyone for quite a while, giving his attentive audience his time after a great set.

 
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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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