whyWalking into the newly re-branded, re-decorated, re-everything-ed ‘Relentless’ Garage in Highbury hideous treble reverberates around the arch, despite the best efforts of support act Munch Munch. My worst apprehension appears to be confirmed; sound has been compromised during redevelopment of the old sweat pit and aesthetics have taken priority. What’s more it has not been re-toilet-ed.

On last year’s US election night I had the privilege of witnessing WHY? reproduce their work complete with every percussive intricacy live at The Scala, in London. When I heard they were returning to play the Garage I jumped at the opportunity to see them once again but as they take to the stage my expectations have been lowered somewhat, more by the shoddy sound than the hazardous lavatories

However, while soundman Snake may not be fooling anybody with that upper-lip bum-fluff, he makes up for youth with ability beyond his years. Each maracas shake, bass note, and syllable rings clear like heaven to an enchanted audience as WHY? storm through opener, ‘The Vowels Pt. 2‘. Good job, Snake.

The Oakland Bay 3 + 1 piece hold up their side of the bargain throughout the evening’s proceedings, mixing their wicked rhythms and magical melodies with front man Yoni Wolf’s dry witted lyrical craftsmanship. ‘Song of the Sad Assassin’ has most people chanting its signature line “Billy the kid did what he did then he died” while ‘Rubber Traits’ has us ‘wee-oo’ing away. Throw in a couple of beers and you have the potion for a top night out.

Seeing WHY? perform is to respect their musicianship more deeply. There is much to be said for witnessing four artists multitask quite so proficiently without resorting to samples. If there is to be one criticism it must be of Yoni’s occasional indifference to vocal tuning; that or tonight’s puzzling omission of ‘Fatalist Palmistry’.

As the band return to the stage for their encore they treat us to a rendition of the beautifully melodic ‘This Blackest Purse’ from upcoming album ‘Eskimo Snow’. The less patient amongst us hope for further sneak previews but instead make do with a couple of well performed favourites before departing into the early July night with smiles plastered over our faces.

It was only last year when a certain Cougar Microbes scribe put me onto the much hyped alt-hip-hop-indie-rock band. Since then I have fallen in love with 2005’s ‘Elephant Eyelash’ and 2008’s ‘Alopecia’ and await ‘Eskimo Snow’ with baited beer breath.


Guest post by Kenny The Emperor.




Why? – The Blackest Purse