Review: Wye Oak and Bailiwick at Falstaff’s

Wye Oak‘s Andy Stack and Jenn Wasner are two (fairly small) individuals.  For the most part, they’re very unassuming.  On Friday night, as the pair entered Falstaff’s, Stack could have passed for a Lucy Scrib reference desk librarian or even a printer at Office Services, with his reserved demeanor, thick-framed tortoise shell glasses, and button-down flannel shirt.  And Wasner might have been mistaken for a rather sickly undergrad on her way back from a study session, with frizzled hair and the sort of congestion that would be enough to frighten anybody who has a job to do, let alone boast a reedy howl of a voice and wail away on an electric guitar like a possessed banshee with sex-appeal.  But when the quaint pair took to falstaff’s stage, all preconceptions dissolved.  Dudes fucked shit up.

Wye Oak by jon yeston

After another crowd-pleasing set from Skidmore’s Bailiwick, Wye Oak waltzed–or rather moseyed on–out.  The same girl who looked like she needed a whole case of tissue boxes and the best cough medicine on the market modestly told us about her minor medical ailment before lapsing right into things.  Either music truly does have the power to heal or this woman was just playing up her illness for effect.  It was like a medical miracle.  In between bellowing with her deep, husky, vaporous pipes (reminiscent of fellow Baltimore-bred Beach House’s Victoria Legrand), she would hack off-mic and chug as much water as humanly possible.  Then, as if flipping a switch, *snap*, right back to sounding as full-bodied and gorgeous as on their new record Civilian.

The slow-churning songs sounded impeccable (did we hire extra-professional sound for this?) in Falstaff’s cabin-like confines.  As the set progressed, Wasner’s guitar reverberated all over the stone walls before crashing and burning under an array of fuzzed-out effects.  Meanwhile, Stack hammered away on his drum set with one hand, supporting the songs’ weight with auxiliary effects and instrumentation on his keyboard with the other. The chugging, out-of-the box rhythms, paired with slow-rolling strums that almost always reached a climax of full-throttle post-rock fury were welcomed with banging heads and tapping feet.  Stack even managed to get in on the “Cat-Face Friday” gimmick that seemed to permeate the space, somehow finding the time to have whiskers and a cat-nose painted on his face.  But the black paint soon glossed over and melted away with his sweat, even further proof of his hard work.

Two people. One fucking great sound.  One damn successful evening.

*Words by Drew Litowitz, Pictures by Jon Yeston


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