July 30, 2009
JezebelMusic.com @ Whitney Museum of American Art
July 24, 2009 | Woods, Yellow Fever
The Friday night summer concert series at The Whitney is one of those delightful, impossibly free perks of our burgeoning metropolis not to be missed. The rare occasion of strolling past The Carlyle and Christian Louboutin boutique on your way to a show is reason alone to check it out. Entering from Madison Avenue at dusk, one is immediately enveloped in Marcel Breuer’s beveled stone architecture, whose acoustics prove to be, unsurprisingly, ideal. The playing area is on the ground floor, haphazardly set between the cafe and street, awash in fluorescents. The audience peers from above, sits Indian-style in the round, dances, or remains aloof, smoking in the outdoor cafe behind the gargantuan bay windows. It’s a chance for underage Pitchfork nerds to mingle with the undying dregs of Warhol’s Factory. For the band members, being “on stage” means crowding into a theater-in-the-round, which is essentially where the treasure chest would be in the bottom of a fish bowl. And for a band like Woods, where the sources of their sound are just as fascinating as is the sound itself, the visual performance, the space, and the audience were as integral as the bass guitar. Accompanied by Yellow Fever, from Austin, TX, Woods played as part of Dan Graham’s Beyond exhibit, ongoing through October 11th.
Woods is sweet, raw, and trippy. Utilizing retro microphones, pedals, and the constant diligent fussing of a mixing board, the sound morphs between underwater muppet babies (in a giddy, positive way), and acid induced psych-rock. The seamless meeting of a male soprano, distorted dissonant lead guitar, and untarnished loose snare is utterly fascinating. The songs work in three layers: country ballad melodies, Syd Barrett-era sheen, and the fun-loving rhythm of Os Mutantes. Most importantly, Woods operates on your subconscious in a way only the best beach psychedelia can; upon listening, you are transported inward, either to a place in your own memory or one of collective American nostalgia. They are so consistent in feel, so acute in diffusion that, duh, they landed a tour with Dungen. If you’re anything like me, you’ll probably want to buy Woods’ latest album, Songs of Shame, and listen to it on a long train ride.
by Drew Citron