Thursday, June 20th, 2013
Indie band WHY? made a long-awaited appearance (postponed from Feb due to a snowstorm) at Hamden, CT’s The Space and were absolutely intriguing to this newbie. Though the core band is usually the two Wolf brothers, Yoni and Josiah, along with guitarist Doug McDiarmid, they have been performing with additional musicians, including Sarah Winters, who’s touring with them as a keyboardist/backing vocalist, and a second drummer/percussionist (the 2 drummers actually were using partial kits each with a vibraphone on either side of the stage), and the music has been very interesting on stage!
Running through the set with standards like “These Few Presidents”, “By Torpedo or Crohns”, and songs from their current CD (Mumps, etc) like “Strawberries” and “Bitter Thoughts”, WHY?’s vocalist Yoni was amazing to hear, and it was actually really cool to watch him tear through this particular set with such an energy and fearlessness. I was not even aware that he’d been sick before this, and seeing the powerhouse front man he is, I never would have even guessed that was the case. Musically, the band provides such an interestingly colorful blend of indie and hip-hop.
The other cool thing I loved about WHY? live was the comical interludes the band inserted between some songs. It’s such a refreshing treat and a cold shot in the arm for the standards of touring indie bands.
This is a group that some of you readers may remember I covered back in 2011, but at that time they were known as Lakshmi. Fight The Fear, as they are called now, rebranded and rebooted themselves with some new songs and a slightly tougher sound, and have been working diligently on a new album titled No Sugar Added (available now on bandcamp).
Tearing through a set consisting mostly of new songs from the CD, 2 of which are songs they’d been showcasing since last year like “The Crash” and “The Haze”, the group is probably the tightest band of musicians that I know, and even though musically they tend to lean more towards pop (Gabrielle has said in the past–though this was during the Lakshmi era–that the band is described as ‘progressive pop’), they have such a presence of great volume and physicality that transcends pop music.
As a front woman, Gabrielle Lakshmi is a living goddess of the pop/rock stage and probably sang for her life on this night, and Alex Beaupre is a very adaptable lead guitarist, switching between smooth pop or R&B and funkier heavy rock. Jake Siberon was super on drums (and pretty good with vocals on a few songs), and bassist Andrew Ciarelli also kicked in some great rhythm acoustic guitar on “The Watcher” (The band was also joined by Gabrielle’s sister on this song, as on the CD).
The band also did a second set consisting of covers only, and even though some of the selections were more suitable for a younger audience (“Party in The USA”, “I Knew You Were Trouble”, etc), the group is also capable of rendering some great versions of “Suck My Kiss” (RHCP) and “Santeria” (Sublime), and even Hendrix’s “Crosstown Traffic”–they even covered Zeppelin when I saw them last year. Color me shocked and amazed!