TVD Live Shots: WHY? and Barrie at U Street Music Hall, 8/25

On Sunday, August 25, WHY?, with support from Barrie, brought their headlining tour to Washington, DC’s U Street Music Hall, playing for the crowd gathered in the underground club’s intimate venue in support of the band’s new visual album AOKOHIO. The youthful audience was subdued but engaged and enthusiastic during the set, which was delivered with a dose of good humor.

WHY? is led by Yoni Wolf and was founded in 2004 by the Cincinnati, Ohio- based rapper and singer, who had been using WHY? as his stage name since 1997. AOKHIO is the band’s sixth album, presented as six movements constructed of two to four songs each. Struggling with the notion of releasing an album in the usual sense, one made up of a dozen songs and released at once, Wolf approached AOKOHIO with a different mindset. He completed one movement before moving on to the next, releasing the individual movements digitally for his fans. Wolf has described the whole process as taking five years. The concept is underscored with the release of an accompanying visual album, which features, in part, home movies from Wolf’s Ohio childhood.

At U Hall, the set list featured some of these new songs, but also some that were clearly old favorites, with fans rapping along right with Wolf. WHY? appeared to transfer the movement approach to their performance, playing three or so songs, some very short, before breaking to chat and joke with the audience, even answering questions from the crowd. With this unique approach and songs that examine one’s sense of self and place, WHY? gave an interesting and introspective performance.

Leading off at U Hall was the opener, Brooklyn-based Barrie. Led by Barrie Lindsay, the band performed songs from their debut LP Happy To Be Here, their take on classic pop. The dreamy-sounding band set the hazy tone for the night with songs like “Tal Uno,” which the band has past described as having a John Hughes, ’80s prom feel, and “Saturated,” a song Lindsay wants to feel like “a crush.” Indeed, the beautiful vocals, jangly delicate Stratocaster and synths evoked visions of late-night conversations during freshman year.

The set was punctuated by the introduction of drummer Dominic Apa. Described as “very wise,” the audience was asked if they needed any advice on anything because Dom could come through with an answer. When there were no takers, the crowd was declared to have “its shit together” and the band played on, cementing Barrie as a band producing an ’80s synth-influenced, dream pop soundtrack for young adulthood.

BARRIE

BARRIE SET LIST
Darjeeling
Dark Tropical
Chinatown
Tal Uno
Michigan
Saturated
Slow Burn
Geology
Clovers

WHY? SET LIST
Peel Free
Reason
Afterschool America
Deleterio
Stained Glass
Waterlines
High Dive
One Mississippi
Vowels
Apogee
This Old King
Proactive
Crippled Physician
Gemini
Rock Candy
Once Shy
The Shame
Bloom
Shadows

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