By Brittany Leitner
The groups balance each other beautifully on their winter tour stop in New York, proving there’s room for two genre-rejecting indie rap poets.
How do you choose an opening act for WHY?
As the Cincinnati band’s fan base grows and the group continues to sell out venues, WHY? is gaining a lot more control of its tours and its shows. But how do you group an opening act with the band that is impossible to peg to a genre?
When I describe WHY? to my friends, I refer to it as a band with rapped lyrics and indie-alternative rock music. That description, although true, definitely does them injustice. Their lyrics aren’t just rapped rhymes — they are poetry. Their music isn’t just a compilation of beats and guitars; it’s gritty, it’s synthetic, it pulses in sync with your heart beat and your sweat beads.
So when I overheard in the girls bathroom that Astronautalis was an odd band to open for WHY? I had to disagree, albeit silently, dipping my hands into a porcelain sink.
Astronautalis is the stage name of Andy Bothwell, a Jacksonville, Florida native who performs with his band consisting of a drummer and guitarist. And how would I describe Astronautalis to my friends? Rapped lyrics. Indie alternative rock music. Sound familiar?
However, that’s where their similarities end. Bothwell spits more of a fast-paced, raw rap and possesses a stage presence that keeps you glued to his every move. He often breaks into a southern drawl when he’s singing, particularly in his rock ballad, “Secrets On Our Lips.” WHY? front man Yoni Wolf is more of a hipster-turned-rapper who’s nasally vibrato and awkward dance moves allow you to keep your eyes closed and head bang as you please.
Despite Wolf’s awkward stage presence, he managed to make the crowd laugh in between songs talking about his thrift store finds (including porno: “Langston Huge” and a Tickle Me Elmo). When someone in the crowd shouted “You got me through college!” Wolf turned it into a joke, saying, “I tried, me and your mom tried real hard,” after he said he was sorry he added, “Yeah I went to college. I went to the school of hard knocks…with your mother.”
Astronautalis had its share of fun with the crowd, as Bothwell, committed to the freestyle he’s known for, requested audience topics for a rap. He didn’t stop or stutter once as he flowed for over four minutes about Wegmans, Disney on ice, whale songs, lesbian octopuses, turpentine, and a Furby Armageddon.
The WHY? winter tour also included act Dream Tiger to open up the full show. Dream Tiger is the solo project of Liz Wolf, WHY? guitarist, keyboardist, and back up singer, and the wife of WHY? drummer Josiah Wolf (Yoni’s brother).
Dream Tiger allows Wolf to show off her vocal chops often trumped by Yoni onstage. On her bandcamp she describes herself as electronic chill as well as the tag “slow core.” Her smooth vocals rarely showcase a belt, keeping her trance-creep wave alive.
The WHY? winter tour began Feb. 8 in Cincinnati, Ohio and ends March 17 in Tulsa, Oklahoma.
WHY? Set List :
January Twenty Something
These Few Presidents
Yo Yo Bye Bye
The Vowels Part 2
This Blackest Purse
Thirteen On High
A Sky For Shoeing Horses Under