WU LYF live
Having been the second time I saw WU LYF at DC’s Rock and Roll Hotel on H Street, it lived up to my expectations of awesome. This band plays incredibly well together. While their sound is limited, it’s rehearsed. The drummer, as we learned after the show, is incredibly shy. Not often do we see a drummer who can play as hard, and as well, as Joe Manning and will cower when the crowd chants his name for an encore. Ellery Roberts, whom I think calls himself Howler, is a quiet showman. He barely speaks to us, laughs through what he does say, and paces around the stage. Too many rips in his jean jacket with the LYF logo on the back, he was so slim and sexy its hard to imagine that powerful rasp coming from such a small person. He supplements Evans Kati and Tom McClung, on guitar and bass respectively, with the ever present organ. Too few bands cherish the organ. Thank god for WU LYF.
They rattled off the tracks from their record, Go Tell Fire To The Mountain, with a few new tracks and covers that went unannounced (and therefore unrecognized.) If you haven’t hear their record I immediately suggest it. Bizarre sounding with unusual song progression WU LYF, sadly, isn’t for everyone. But they’re for me. (I even got myself a sweet poster pre-show. And got Roberts to sign it.) Almost every song has a movement to it and quite literally sounds just like the open space they recorded in.
When I saw WU LYF a year ago they didn’t give us an encore. Probably due to the fact that they only have ten songs to play. The crowd wouldn’t let up this time. After the band eventually came back (with a shirtless Roberts) we spent minutes chanting Joe, waiting for the drummer to appear. We then spent too many more minutes waiting for them to decide what to play. First a cover and then an encore of We Bros – the over-edited single. (Which, I hate to presume is becoming a trademark song for indie-bro-rock. Consider the phrase coined.) It turned into another mosh and Roberts jumped down into the crowd. I could see the crowd move in unison to the music. They jumped and swayed side to side while the rest of us tried (really hard!) not to get stepped on. WU LYF is the smallest epic band in the world. And their presence is unavoidable.
Willis Earl Beal opened. One man with a reel to reel, Beal is a mix of a spoken word artist, a poet, and an incredible vocalist. Although his sound was unrefined (he also promised us a lo-fi sound on his debut record, Acousmatic Sorcery out on XL) you had to believe what he was say-singing to you. He commanded the room from the start and held us all captive (with slight “this is weird” nods to one another in between.) Beal certainly fits in with WU LYF’s unusual existence and it was an honest treat to see him perform. Bed sheet cape/banner in all.