As usual, Penn State’s annual Arts Crawl was a wild, noisy explosion of art and music. Hallways lined with art, rooms filled with paintings, sculptures and installations. Music coming from every direction, multiple genres and styles all playing in different parts of the event simultaneously, creating a wonderfully disorienting effect.
A host of great local bands performed, including Peacefeather, The Gay Republicans, Think Twice Dublin, Pantomime Dame and Swiss Alps. Andrew McHenry (you may remember him) was performing solo as well. Some bands came from even farther away, like Parlormint, who you may also remember.
Five-piece outfit Swiss Alps played a strong set in the Stuckeman building. Parlormint braved the cold to rock out in front of an old furnace between buildings. Word on the street was that The Gay Republicans was a festival favorite. Pantomime Dame was another crowd favorite, opening up the Crawl from the ground floor of the Visual Arts building.
Despite all these great bands, the biggest buzz was over this year’s headliner, the experimental indie/hip-hoppish band, WHY?. How did Artscrawl (curated by SOMA, a loosely organized group of artists and creatives) manage to book a big touring band like WHY? to play in the “figure drawing room” of the third floor of the campus arts building? The opportunity allowed a nice chunk of money and the opportunity to play a unique event in a new setting.
People were ecstatic for WHY? to start. The line to get in snaked down the packed hallway. We were worried that some people wouldn’t be let in due to fire codes, but eventually everyone was able to find a place to stand, and the show started. WHY? played a great set for the hour they were allotted. They played a good mix of new and old songs. A surprising number of people knew the lyrics to many of the songs, and happily sung along. Lead singer/rapper Yoni Wolf noticed, and blamed the Internet.
The show was high energy from start to finish, with two drummers on either side of the stage producing unique rhythm–one drummer slipped out from time to time to play guitar or keyboard. Yoni’s exquisite lyricism and powerful mustache kept the crowd enthralled the whole time. He can really command a stage, busting through song after song, his hands moving as if shaping the words as they leave his mouth. The audience appeared to be very impressed by WHY? as a band–especially by Yoni and his brother Josiah’s tight on-stage chemistry. WHY? is known as an entertaining live band; it makes sense that they have such a reliable, loyal following (the band’s fans are known to proudly support their every move). With four LP releases under their belt, it looks as if the band is here to stay.
Josiah Wolf, drummer and multi-instrumentalist of WHY?, was kind enough to speak with THE BOMBER JACKET for a few minutes about the tour, being in a “family” band, and the joys of Cincinnati. We also talk about “Simeon’s Dilemma,” band pranks, and how Josiah feels about the band’s name. Check out the quick interview below and click here to see video of Josiah’s side project with his wife Liz that we filmed a year ago in Germany.