Why? Alopecia 10 Year Anniversary Tour – London, Electric Ballroom
In the ten years since its release, Why?’s landmark record _Alopecia_ has grown into something of a cult record from a bygone era. When it was released, American indie-rock and its crossover appeal into alternative hip-hop – amongst other far-reaching genres such as folk and electronica – was arguably at its peak, and Why? joined the fore with grace. While the band are yet to better it – _Alopecia_ was a lightning-in-a-bottle moment of creativity for the always arresting group – it was received with instant success critically. While perhaps not the most commercially successful record of the genre that year, it is remembered very fondly as a real achievement from the Anticon Records collective, who had been threatening a truly great record all their careers up to that point.
So, while not the biggest-selling record (tonight’s show fills but doesn’t quite sell out the thousand capacity Electric Ballroom) those who are in attendance possess a palpable excitement at the opportunity to see one of their favourite records performed live, in full. Indeed, when the opening feedback of ‘The Vowels, pt.2’ begin screaming out, the crowd largely scream back at it, and neither band nor crowd let up their intensity through this at-times rather intense record. Much of that is to do with frontman Yoni Wolf’s lyrics, of which this record is by far his best outing, meaning the crowd are singing, rapping and everything in-between along to virtually every single one of Wolf’s inspired bars from this time. ‘Good Friday’ for instance, is one of Wolf’s most arresting pieces as he confesses to his darkest impulses towards his fascinations of sex and death and the crowd are right there with him, rapping along to every single word.
Musically, the band set up a fairly stripped down arrangement, which is understandable, given it’s a densely packed record. It works perfectly, however, as the band create the necessary atmosphere and tension to accompany the record’s urges. In a particular standout moment, the band re-work the album’s last “proper” track ‘By Torpedo or Crohn’s’ into a gorgeous rendition that is the only moment which splits away from the tradition of the record. All the same, the audience visually and audibly appreciates all the little weird touches that make this album such an easy piece to obsess over. The little bass lick that accompanies the famous “even though I haven’t seen you in years, yours is a funeral I’d fly to from anywhere” from ‘These Few Presidents’ for example, or the pulsating story about _that_ basketball court in Berlin from ‘The Hollows’ get delirious reactions from the crowd.
Tonight’s show is a total joy, which the band equally feel, as Wolf shows his appreciation by calling the London crowd “The B.A.T” (Best At the Tour) which is a charmingly clumsy term from such a Wordsworth as him. In the encore, Serengeti who supported joins the band for his Wolf-assisted track ‘Madeline’ while the hardcore fans (so basically everyone here) are treated to a beautiful version of ‘Crushed Bones’ from their 2005 precursor _Elephant Eyelash_. Tonight, we were all lucky to be under the same sky that held Why?’s collective exhales.