The Westcott Theater offered music fans of all tastes an intimate musical experience last Saturday night, as The Wood Brothers took the stage. The band is comprised of brothers Chris (upright bass) and Oliver Wood (acoustic and electric guitar), accompanied by drummer Jano Rix.
The Westcott Theater had a seated floor area for this show, which I have never seen them use. The seated floor gave the room a much more intimate vibe, encouraging the audience to sit back and listen attentively to the music. The Wood Brothers began their set with a few acoustic tunes that featured Rix alternating between playing a unique percussive guitar instrument (referred to by Oliver Wood as the “shitar”) and a melodica. Right from the start, a few bold characteristics were evident. The power of both the vocal harmonies and the lyrical melodies was immense. Chris Wood’s bass was an essential part of the group’s sound and was brilliantly mixed for the space (I could feel it in my shoes, but could also pick out the distinct textures of the upright bass). Rix added his percussion/drums fittingly to the music, while also offering precise vocal harmonies.
The Wood Brothers went on to play a blend of new and old songs, including the older “Postcards From Hell” (Loaded, 2008) and the newer “Payday” (Live, Volume 1: Sky High, 2012). The Wood Brothers announced that they would also be trying out some new tunes and arrangements. One of these experiments involved Oliver telling the crowd to be silent while the band huddled around a condenser area microphone in the middle of the stage. They proceeded to play an acoustic version of “Shoofly Pie” as well as a new track. I thoroughly enjoyed this experience because the silence in the room enabled me to hear the intricacies of the acoustic instruments as well as the subtleties in the vocal melodies/harmonies.
By the end of the show, the younger crowd had filled in the small space in between the first row of seats and the stage, grooving out to the band’s exquisite blend of folk, blues and rock. The Wood Brothers really turned it up for their last few songs and encore, with Oliver shredding electric guitar and Chris slapping strings on songs that were more upbeat and rocking. Jano had gone back to play drum kit and exhibited his advanced musicianship during a percussion break during the encore. Overall, I was taken aback by the raw quality and authenticity of the music. The Wood Brothers pleased a few different types of music fans with their performance at The Westcott Theater. The folk fans got their distinct vocal harmonies, melodies and passionate lyrics, the blues fans got tight instrumentals and a soulful tone and the rockers got some grooving rock songs with raging guitar solos.