Wye Oak @ XOYO Review
The Walking Dead Season 2 has been arse. Yes I know the Walking Dead is about the humans but wake me up once a character has more depth than a walk on part in Neighbours. The only positive I can take is hearing the Wye Oak song Civilian from the season premiere trailer (and if I’m less of a douche that the first episode was ok).
The band itself have been around since mid 2006 and have released three albums (If Children, The Knot and Civilian). Each of the albums are strong in their own right and I recommend starting with the latest (Civilian) and working back (If Children). Every time I put one on it kicks me up the arse to remind me how frickin good these albums are.
My expectations before the gig? Neutral/High. I’d bought and listened to the albums to death, and watched numerous YouTube performances in a four week period. Excited in other words.
Before the gig we decided that we wouldn’t get sucked into an Italian as it’s become too much of a habit. After walking through Shoreditch and seeing a few pretentious places we decided on Cafe El Paso. Bang up Tex Mex, nice down to earth staff and a choice of Red Stripe or Estrella beers. Yes, most people think these beers are a bit shit but I like these (hence why I just bought a truck load of Estrella). After being extremely glutenous we skipped along to the lovely XOYO. The big positive for the XOYO is that the performances are on late (typically 8.30/8.45 start) so there’s loads of time to grab some nosh.
The support act for the night were Callers. They’d supported Wye Oak across the entire European tour which from what I heard was quite an experience. Multiple van break ins with band kit stolen, numerous amps blown and money being so tight they didn’t know if they were going to be stranded.
The band really impressed me and they have a cracking vocalist in Sara Lucas. The band were originally formed in New Orleans, and you can hear that in the variation of styles in their sound. There’s something about bands from New Orleans, maybe it’s the blues/jazz influence or the fact that they like playing with their natural sound (not screwing around in post production). I bought their album Life of Love which is quite a hard listen at first. After the second listen though it clicked. It’s not one you stick on when you want to relax or think. It’s one to focus on and get lost in.
Wye Oak I was actually slightly disappointed in. Not because of their performance itself but because of the sound. I think some of their songs don’t lend themself to the big amp setup. Too many times Jenn Wasner’s vocal was lost behind the instruments, when it’s her vocal in certain songs that drive it forward. A quick example of Civilian stripped back and Civilian in the ‘big amp’ setup to show the difference. Saying that For Prayer and Holy Holy were bloody amazing.
What I’d like to see them do is mix it up a bit and play some songs in a more acoustic style with others in the traditional electric. I’d be more than happy to be a stage hand at no cost .
Though a little underwhelmed I really do like this band. The gig won’t be going in my top 10 (oh noes!) but the band are definitely turning into one of my favourites. Looking forward to them returning sooner, rather than later to these shores.