by Andrew Crisp
One of the goals of the Treefort Music Fest in March was to establish Boise as a regular touring stop for bands playing Seattle and Salt Lake City. On Sept. 3, Treefort headliners Why? returned to Boise to prove that goal successful.
For its second Boise performance, the Cincinnati indie/rap band took the Reef stage, followed by rapper Serengeti and DJ Tony Trimm. Though DJ Jel was scheduled to join the band in its large purple tour bus, he will instead meet the gang at its next stop in Salt Lake City.
Trimm took the stage first. He spun a melange of genres and sipped a Pabst Blue Ribbon whenever his fingers left the records. He distorted tracks by indie bands like Animal Collective and morphed the beats of rap songs like Lil Wayne's "A Milli" and Jay Electronica's "Exhibit C."
"How's your Labor Day, Boise?" Serengeti asked after he took the stage.
Though Serengeti's lyrics were smart, his murmuring was hard to understand. The crowd didn't seem to mind, hugging the stage as Trimm laid down Serengeti's beats.
Why? took the stage around 11 p.m. Josiah Wolf told Boise Weekly that the band's lineup, which includes new additions Ben Sloan and Sarah Winters, might be difficult on a small stage. With two drum sets, keys, a bass, a xylophone and six moving bodies, the Reef stage was a tight fit.
Why? began softly, tinkling xylophone and vibraphone while crooning: "Texas has nothing to do with you."
Then Jonathan "Yoni" Wolf bounded on stage to applause, launching into "These Few Presidents." As he approached the final refrain, he flipped the microphone toward the crowd, which sang: "Even though I haven't seen you in years / yours is a funeral I'd fly to from anywhere."
He smiled and laughed as he brought the microphone back to his lips.
"Thank you guys," he said. "We're starting to gain a new love for Boise."
Without a driving guitar on stage, hits from the band's best-known release, 2008's Alopecia, favored more keys and vibraphone. The band's new tracks had the same sound. However, Yoni's dark, frank lyrics remained at the forefront of the performance.
"I need a towel," Yoni said at one point. "I'm sweating like a rapist," and "I've been roofied before and it ended with twins."
Though as a rapper, Yoni doesn't exhibit the swagger typified in the genre, the crowd clearly related to his rough edges. They sang many of the songs, belted out requests and danced throughout the show.
"Boise, we'll come back just as soon as you'll have us," he told the crowd.