“It was nice to play a college show,” said Yoni Wolf, lead singer of Why? said, after playing Kresge Recital Hall on Feb. 20. Artists Astronautalis and Dream Tiger rounded out the concert, put on by 90.7 WVKC.
“We usually send out a bunch of emails to different bands and just sort of cast a line and see who responds. Why? ended up responding and were in our price range, and aside from a staff at WVKC with a lot of Why? fans, there’s a lot of hype on campus for Why?,” senior and WVKC studio technician Nick Price said.
Wolf is known for being a reclusive, odd and endlessly interesting personality. He has been recording music since 1998, but only recently has Why? come into fruition.
Formed in 2004, the band consists of Wolf, his older brother Josiah, bassist Austin Brown and Doug McDiarmid and plays an eccentric brand of hip-hop and indie folk mashup distinctive to their work. With four albums out, including 2008’s widely critically acclaimed “Alopecia,” and a cult following that extends to the Knox campus, Why? is bigger fare than some Knox students expect.
“Dream Tiger,” the moniker of Liz Wolf, Josiah’s wife, offered a slow, atmospheric opening to the bill, followed by Astronautalis, a Midwestern act from Minneapolis.
Astronautalis, much like Why?, performs an alternative hip-hop style dealing in lyrical and vocal hip-hop tropes underpinned with a more traditionally indie rock instrumental style. As the final song of their set, the group performed a freestyle built around audience-suggested topics, including but not limited to, gravity, the universe and “Buffy the Vampire the Slayer.”
Why? took the stage at 11 p.m. and began a set of songs spanning the multitude of styles they have incorporated into their act over the years. Ranging from more hip-hop oriented fare, such as “Good Friday,” to some of their folksiest offerings, like “Yo Yo Bye Bye,” it was a quirky and eclectic set.
Sophomore Natalie Baldino, who stood front and center during Why?’s set, said that Why? was “brilliant.”
“I thought the show was a show for fans and not for the less dedicated Why? listener. They played a lot of songs they hadn’t played in a long time, like they started with ‘Waterfalls,’ which is from an earlier album of theirs. I think they did a really great job of working with the space,” she said.
The range of songs performed in Why?’s set was certainly unexpected and very pleasing to sophomore Sam Scheurell, another front row and center fan.
“I thought the setlist was awesome. It spanned the breadth of their work really well,” he said. “They played stuff from (debut album) ‘Elephant Eyelash,’ ‘Alopecia,’ the new album. They put on a great show.”
As for Wolf himself, the smaller venue was a pleasant change of pace.
“It’s a lot smaller, a lot leaner, which I prefer. Other than that, I dunno. It’s different from seedy clubs, which I like,” he said, as he walked to the showers in Memorial Gym after the concert.