Advertisement

Woods’ Wednesday set at Gabe’s had a sense of gentle coherence


Woods
Brooklyn, NY band Woods, in a press photo from their website.

I walked into the upper level of Gabe’s and was disappointed to see that Woods hadn’t gained any popularity since they played the Mill a few years back on tour for Bend Beyond. I had enjoyed that show, and was happy to hear they were playing Iowa City again — especially given the critical praise deservedly lavished on their most recent album, City Sun Eater in the River of Light, which marks their transition away from a low-fi aesthetic.

The band played well, with Jeremy Earl’s falsetto contrasting perfectly with the guitars, keyboards and drums. That contrast seems key to the band’s success, creating a space of warmth that fits comfortably between Fruit Bats and Built to Spill: While Eric D. Johnson’s voice floats over his band’s instrumentation in ways that evoke sitting in a meadow on a sunny day, enjoying a breeze, and Built to Spill’s Doug Marsch sings through an incredibly precise arrangement of guitars, Woods provides a heavy backdrop that the vocals enter into. There’s a heaviness to the drums and bass, especially live, that make it far weightier than Fruit Bats, but a looseness to the music that allows a far more relaxed experience than Built to Spill. The instrumental breaks between vocals shimmer with a quiet, potent heat that allows the vocal return to descend in a reassuring croon. The band played with a sense of gentle coherence, refusing to overpower or overwhelm the audience — we, instead, were invited to share in the space the band created. The keyboardist, at one point, made this invitation explicit, offering the stage as a dancing place. The handful of dancers in front of the stage preferred to remain where they were.

The songs — written in minor keys, accompanied by the sad sound of a solo saxophone — retained their sense of warmth. It simply filtered things, as though a cloud — or, better, a haze — to settle over the sounds they created. The new album, which took up the majority of this night’s performance, features reappropriations of a handful of genres that Woods makes their own. Traces of reggae, blues, rock, and folk can be heard surfacing and disappearing as Woods appropriates — owns — each of these musical traditions, and crafts them into their own aesthetic. At their best, it feels as though the band provides an experience of West coast surf rock viewed through an East coast sensibility.

As they performed, the band became tighter and the songs more sprawling, instrumental sessions taking more time, vocals less. These were the most beautiful moments, the band and audience both becoming lost in the tapestry of sounds and silences punctuating chord shifts. The band evoked a sense of warmth, of triumph, that was at odds with the dark rain outdoors but all the more beautiful for it. The audience left satisfied, as though they had enjoyed an excellent meal, contented smiles lingering as the house lights came up. The set was only 90 minutes long, and although I gladly would have heard more I also did not feel deprived. I felt at peace, satisfied, as some of the warm joy the band created stayed with me as I left Gabe’s to return home.


Thoughts? Tips? A cute picture of a dog? Share them with LV » editor@littlevillagemag.com

Advertisement

The Iowa City Human Rights Commission needs you!

Apply Today

@ICHumanRights »

Advertisement

Summer Programs 2020

Get 150+ local restaurants delivered to your door in the Iowa City & Cedar Rapids areas!

The Future is Unwritten

You look to Little Village for today’s stories. Your sustaining support will help us write tomorrow’s.

Regular

$10/mo or $120/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
The cost of doing this work really adds up! Your contribution at this level will cover telephone and internet expenses for one month at the LV editorial offices.

Italic

$20/mo or $240/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
$240 is enough to cover one month’s costs for sending out our weekly entertainment newsletter, The Weekender. Make a contribution at this level to put a little more oomph on your support and your weekend.

Bold

$30/mo or $360/year
(AUTO-RENEW)
LittleVillageMag.com connects eastern Iowa culture with the world. Your contribution at this level will cover the site’s hosting costs for three months. A bold move for our boldest supporters!

All monthly and annual contributors receive:

  • Recognition on our Supporters page (aliases welcome)
  • Exclusive early access when we release new half-price gift cards
  • Access to a secret Facebook group where you can connect with other supporters and discuss the latest news and upcoming events (and maybe swap pet pics?) with the LV staff
  • Invitations to periodic publisher chats (held virtually for now) to meet with Matt and give him a piece of your mind, ask your burning questions and hear more about the future plans for Little Village, Bread & Butter Magazine, Witching Hour Festival and our other endeavors.

Coralville Public Library Online Summer Reading Programs

For ages 0-99+