Following the release of their 5th studio album ‘Moh Lhean,’ the alternative hip-hop/indie rock group Why?brought their unique sound to New York’s Irving Plaza on April 15th. Despite their tour bus breaking down and almost catching fire the previous night, frontman Yoni Wolf and his band set the stage ablaze, UV spectral lights illuminating the smoke coming from an ad-hoc acapella audience
After the opening performance from Brooklyn-based ambient group Eskimeaux soothed the crowd into their spaces, Why? took the stage in the no-fuss coolness that permeates both their persona and sound. Wolf seems like a changed man after developing an unspecified “life-threatening illness” during the making of ‘Moh Lhean’ (the single ‘Proactive Evolution’ ends with the sampled voices of Wolf’s doctors.) Performance wise, Wolf has always been enigmatic, scarcely speaking and when he does, offering short-stack sentences like “This is good. You guys are great.” Previously, it seemed Wolf was confined to a glass case, splintered by fans tapping to get in. But now, it’s like he’s shrouded by a cozy clump of clouds and at peace with that and everything else.
The set list consisted mostly of songs from the ‘Moh LHean’ but some crowd-pleasing oldies like ‘Strawberries,’ ‘The Vowels Pt. 2,’ and ‘Good Friday’ incited a stomping sing-along. It’s clear that the band is as happy to be touring this newest release as the fans are, playing so seamlessly and together, it’s like they never stopped. With Wolf’s new found appreciation for life, hopefully Why? will keep its heart rate up by producing more music