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88Nine Radio Milwaukee

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Wye Oak Rocks Turner Hall Ballroom

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  • Wye Oak Rocks Tuner Hall

In case you missed it, indie duo Wye Oak came to town last night and treated us to a little mid-week energy kick. Wye Oak, comprised of singer/guitarist/bassist Jenn Wasner and drummer/ keyboardist Andy Stack, produces a unique sound that combines elements of indie rock with flashes of 1980’s pop music. The electronic-infused rock group played to a small, but highly dedicated audience at Tuner Hall Ballroom. Wye Oak, fresh off their latest album Shriek, is in the midst of a multi-continental tour with stops across the US, Canada, and Europe. Shriek has been met with great reviews from both fans and critics, and represents a turning point in the duo’s sound. The new album is high energy and more in- your face than their 2011 release, Civilian. While Turner was about as empty as I have ever seen it, Wye Oak rocked the house like it was a sold out show.

The night kicked-off with a performance from Braids, an electronic and experimental rock group from Calgary, Canada. The trio gave a workman performance despite limited enthusiasm amongst the crowd. Braids has a unique sound, highlighted by the entrancing vocals from the very talented Taylor Smith. The group’s understated vibe was a good warm-up for the main attraction. Wye Oak came out with high energy and enthusiasm. The duo spent little time interacting with the crowd, but instead focused on the performance at hand. Wye Oak did a nice job of encompassing a wide range of their collection during the set. They started the night off with a few songs off their Civilian album, including renditions of “I Know The Law” and “Holy Holy”. However, the pair kicked up the set a notch with hits off their latest release including the self-titled track “Shriek” and “Glory”.

All-together, Wye Oak put together a well-rounded performance. There were very little frills or showmanship included into the set. Instead, Jen and Andy let their music do the talking for them. Unfortunately, the crowd at Turner that night was a little underwhelming for such a high-profile gig. I had very little trouble maneuvering to the very front of the mob of around 50. Despite the lack of quantity, the group that made their way into the ballroom on Wednesday was one of the more dedicated groups. You could tell that they were fully invested into the show and had a true affinity for the electronic-rock of Wye Oak. The show last night almost had the feeling of a cult show. Only the real fans came out to spend their Wednesday night to see the group. However, Wye Oak put on a great performance and seemed un-deterred by lack of screaming teenagers. Jen even opened up to the crowd toward the end of the show by confiding how she almost quit music and doesn’t take our love for their music for granted. That small little quote added a nice personal touch to an already intimate environment. I thoroughly enjoyed the show from Wye Oak and thought it was a nice mid-week break from the grind.