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Woods and Yellow Fever at The Whitney Friday July 24th, 2009: Two Turntables And a Microphone

Yellow Fever and Woods have this is common: the bass players of both bands are multi instrumentalist. They also have this in common: at the Whitney last night as part of the pop conceptual artist Dan Graham’s retrospective “Beyond” both bands, while good in their own right, and with plenty of inner band magic, seemed to have a problem letting the audience join in. I don’t think it’s nerves that had the lead singer barely acknowledge us after we cheered a Hendrixy solo on a long, thrilling jam which was both very old fashioned and completely up to date. I think it was… I dunno, integrity? If so it is misplaced and both Woods and Yellow Fever were just too distant from us though we were right on top of them.

Woods and Yellow Fever don’t have this in common as well: Fever don’t but Woods, a psychedelic, lo-fi jam band, have a DJ with a tiny soundboard connected to two music cassette players he (I can’t find his name) knelt on the floor and flipped cassettes -most of which seemed to have background noise on, pausing the cassettes, pressing down on em as they play the way he might scratch vinyl and with a mike attached to his head like a horses bit, harmonizing distortedly in the background. It is a virtuoso performances, the guy with a shaggy hair and a pony tail looks just just like his collegiate audience but he has an intensity that is mesmerizing and used to enormously good effect by Woods.

Earlier Yellow Fever are a lo fi, quasi experimental band with the lead singer keening her strange, nursery-rhyme like lyrics in a song-songy, engagingly weird manner. At one point she plays an open chord guitar striking the bridges of her guitar with a drum stick. I ask the bass player for the name of the song but it doesn’t have one -it was improvised. At the end they announce they are selling seven inchers, CDs and Michael Jackson tee-shirts after the show. These guys have been compared to “Young Marble Giants” but that’s a little knee jerk, they are true originals and their songs of cool cats and getting funky should find its audience -include me in.

Woods start their set with “Rain On” and “Too Clean” with the lead singer on acoustic guitar and his gorgeous falsetto leading me to believe they are a folk band but they are just starting and half way through their forty five minute set the guy is high high up on the neck of his guitar and shredding notes. Later still he is playing a blues shuffle first in the spaces left by and then along with the DJ.

A good night of new sound but playing in a group is always an experiment in empathy and both bands should work on their on stage charisma.

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