Revenge of the robots: Andy Mannix reviews Why? and Heiruspecs

Why? 7th St. Entry Sunday, April 6 Review by Andy Mannix

Losing faith in your local hip-hop scene? Unsure of the difference between hip-hop and rap? Go to the next Heiruspecs show. I have no idea where it is, because their Web site doesn't say, but I'll see you there.

I had never seen them before they opened for Why? Sunday night, but I am sold. They are hip-hop robots engineered by a civilization much more advanced than our own.

There is nothing easy about becoming a fan of the Oakland based group Why?

Simply asking someone about them can be enough to land you in a strange semantical loop of conversation that will immediately seem more work than it's worth to get out of. My computer thinks every word following the band name should be capitalized, and requires me to delete and rewrite it three times before it will believe that capitalization is not necessary.

Going to buy their album can be even more frustrating. Depending on what you have heard, you might wander anywhere from the rap to the folk to the pop section expecting to find it. You'll probably end up asking the clerk, so to save you some time, it's in the pop/rock section at the Electric Fetus.

Why? Because Andy likes you! Of course bands incorporating multiple clashing genres is nothing new. I mean, we can't forget rap-metal heavy hitters like Limp Bizkit and Linkin Park. So what makes Why? stand out? They're actually good. In fact, they're better than good. They are the pinnacle of a trend in modern music desperately searching for an original niche. Their eclectic sound and stream-of-consciousness style of visual poetry are completely unique. And somehow, they are astonishingly catchy.

Their performance Sunday night at the 7th Street Entry was equally pleasing. They have a natural, unpretentious air that made me feel less like I was having a great time watching Why? and more like I was having a great time hanging out with Why? They are funny, modest, quirky and entertaining.

Yoni Wolf, the group's lead singer, plays drums while standing and singing for many songs. They have frequent instrument changes. Some of them smile the entire show. Some don't smile at all. They have a xylophone, and they use it.

They seem to play whatever they want, with no concern over words like “genre” or “popular”. That's exactly what makes them good. They are a 10 out of 10, but still small and unmarketable enough to fit nicely in your pocket. Seeing a band that refined, talented and charismatic at a venue as intimate as the Entry is a rare experience. I can't think of a single show I have had a better time at -- or have been as upset with because it was over. I seemingly wasn't alone, as many fans belted demands of “10 more songs” as the house lights turned on. --Andy Mannix

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