Why? / Astronautalis – Taft Theatre Ballroom

Why? is one of the most unique bands I’ve heard in a long time.  The witty and irreverent rapping paired with sung choruses makes them a strange mix of styles that is nearly  (if not completely) impossible to categorize.  All I know is that their songs get stuck in my head for weeks at a time.

On this tour they are supported by two acts.  First was Dream Tiger, the solo project for multi-instrumentalist and Why? band member Liz Wolf.  This was her first show for the new project.  It was a bit of a strange show to see someone onstage, solo with only loops to back her up.  The songs reminded me of a mix of bjork and Sigur Ros.  I think there’s a lot of potential for Dream Tiger once the project is more well-formed.

The second act, Astronautalis completely blew me away.  Andy Bothwell, the man behind the moniker is one of the most charismatic and natural showmen I’ve ever seen.  He immediately came out and began with some banter with the audience and then started killing it with quick rhymes and an insane amount of energy.  Bothwell began as a battle rapper and even came to Scribble Jam her in Cincinnati in the early 2000’s.  He credited that performance as the impetus for starting a band after he was booed off stage.  “That’s when I realized, I’m not so good at battle rapping. Maybe I should learn to write a song” Bothwell said from the stage.  By far the most entertaining part of his show was the freestyle rapping.  He asked the crowd for topics and proceeded to improvise rhymes and tell a crazy story about hypochondria, the marine corps, his grandpa’s funeral, and cat jesus… yes, I said cat jesus.

When Why? finally came on stage for their set the crowd was well primed and enthusiastic as they played their unique blend of indie rock and rap.  The band was setup in a semi-circle, leaving the center open for singer Yoni Wolf to prowl the stage why singing/rapping crowd favorites like The Hollows and Strawberries.  Yoni’s lyrics are intelligent, witty and at times downright funny.  I’m not usually a fan of much rap music but I haven’t been able to stop listening to them for a few months.  Maybe my tastes are changing, or maybe they’re just that good!

Author avatar
Brian Bruemmer