Why?
Despite the festivities happening over at Treasure Island on Saturday the 17th, Serengeti & Polyphonic. The music was an interesting mix of dubstep/techno and hip-hop. They definitely had a sound that was unique and had a pretty solid crowd dancing along. Serengeti, who did all the singing, has great stage presence and danced and writhed as he spit lyrics, while Polyphonic deftly handled the electronic side of things.

AU (pronounced “Ay-you”) was up next and they brought something completely different to the stage. Dana Valatka is an exceptional drummer, pulling all kinds of tricks out of his bag and keeping the tempo with intricate polyrhythms that boggled the ears. Bandleader Luke Wyland kept up in fine style, banging out melodies on the keyboard and singing over everything. You can tell that no two shows are the same with these guys, as the songs seem to lend themselves to improvisation and reinterpretation.

As the night wore on the crowd got denser, the fabled Phil Elevrum of Mount Eerie took the stage. If one wanted to characterize this night as eclectic they need look no further than Mount Eerie’s place on the bill. I thought it was brilliant. What better way to counterpoint something so bombastic and lyrical as Why? than with the pastoral, distant sound of Elverum and company?

Phil’s lyrics are often just barely there, sometimes faint enough to be barely audible and completely indecipherable, and seem to serve more as accompaniment to the instrumentation. This is music that is identifiable with the rain and thunder, not at all surprising being that the band’s name comes from the mountain overlooking Phil’s hometown, where it rains more often than not.

Finally, Yoni Wolf and Why? hit the stage and in fine form, too. A full band played, leaving Yoni to his duties on the microphone, where he performed admirably. I’d heard of Why?’s performances being hit or miss in the past and this was most definitely a hit. Wolf was all over the stage, dancing (at least I think that was dancing) and bantering with the audience between songs. He even threw his brother Josiah under the bus for some interesting and explicit bedroom habits… But all kidding aside, the band was extremely tight and gave Yoni the backing he needed to engage the crowd with some unpredictable stage antics.

Surprisingly enough, even though the band just released Eskimo Snow last month, Why? selected a wide range of songs from past albums. Yoni even took it all the way back to his days with Hymie’s Basement for an encore that had the crowd jumping.

Overall, I’d have to say I was very impressed with the night, a solid mix of different and varied acts that kept my ears’ attention. Not once did I catch myself wondering if the grass was greener over at Treasure Island.