Tuesday, November 8
Music Hall of Williamsburg
Better than: Staying home wondering if Jay-Z and Kanye had conceded to my list of Watch The Throne demands. (They didn’t.)
Sometimes you go to shows for clarification—was song X really about this, did lead singer Y seem as sad in real life as she does on her album. Last night’s sold-out Music Hall of Williamsburg show by the British act WU LYF was a different type of quest: Could I decipher any lyrics off their (highly listenable) full-length Go Tell Fire To The Mountain? Alas, the answer was no. Frontman Ellery Roberts’s hoarse howling sounds like a drunk Harvey Fierstein yelling quotes from the backwoods-inbred Jodie Foster film Nell, or the end result of Animal being promoted from drummer of the Electric Mayhem to lead singer.
That’s not to say WU LYF isn’t a good band. Their songs swell and collapse, filled with just the right amount of cacophony; Roberts’s scratchy, soaring voice is backed by over-the-top drumming, plucky guitar and the occasional organ that he bangs out himself when he’s not fiddling with his hair, banging his fingers against his chest, or buttoning and unbuttoning his denim jacket. Last night the crowd in front began to mosh about halfway through; this pleased Ellery, and he squatted down to assault them with his bobcat yowls. Standouts included “14 Crowns for Me & Your Friends” and “L Y F”, but to be honest, the sound was so magnetic that every song from the album came to life. During “14 Crowns” and his voice might have been a little shot (although given the sounds he produces how would one tell?) he let the crowd fill in with their own yelps, which they were happy to do. (Even those people who don’t know the words can mimic the primal vocals.)
As the night wore down, the band turned it down a notch. Roberts buttoned his denim jacket high up to his neck, and asked the crowd “We’re in Brooklyn, right?” before slipping into the decidedly quieter “Brooklyn Girls.” Few seemed ready for the night to end, but it was understood that Ellery had given us all he could muster and left nothing behind.
Critical bias: Internet Xplorer, who spun between sets, didn’t acknowledge my mid-day request for “Countdown.” But he did play some choice Future Islands and Phantogram jams.
Overheard “He sounds like a pirate. WU LYF are pirates.”
Random notebook dump: Ellery looked suspiciously like another Manchester native, Morrissey. (Maybe it was the hair.)