Open Mike Eagle began his opening set with “Raps For When It’s Just You and the Abyss”, and slowly built momentum as the crowd filed in for an early show at The Irenic. On “Idaho”, an anxious road diary from Dark Comedy, Mike ramped up his raw delivery to match the progressively distorted production, signaling a shift in pace. Once the beat for “Qualifiers” hit, Mike had the crowd firmly on his side and rode out his 45-minute set admirably.
Fresh off the release of Moh Lhean, the first home-recorded WHY? album since 2003, Yoni Wolf and company took the stage blanketed by a celestial backdrop and smoke machine. “Easy” quietly ushered in the performance before the gorgeously layered show stopper that is “This Ole King”, accentuated by three backing vocalists on the chorus and outro. “But at the start of spring / Like the robins sing / This ole king will be rising,” Yoni sang under the church’s dim blue haze, suggesting a rebirth in the wake of a major health scare.
Josiah Wolf’s commanding percussion led the charge, crashing chains against cymbals while his tourmates pulled instrumental double duty between keys and guitars, with Yoni picking up the bass for an Alopecia-heavy middle portion of the set. Vintage incandescent bulbs set up across the stage flickered and faded throughout the night, as Yoni’s newfound holy shrug mantras bobbed and weaved amongst multiple genres.
WHY? re-emerged in a huddle-like formation for a three song acoustic encore highlighted by “The Hollows”, with Doug McDiarmid providing an alien keyboard backdrop, Matt Meldon nimbly playing guitar, and Josiah comically banging a solitary drum inches from intrusive iPhone lenses as if to say, “Hey, how about watching this with your eyeballs?” The band’s warm harmonies carried into the finale of “Simeon’s Dilemma”, with the first several rows of The Irenic matching the quartet line-for-line.