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WU LYF at the Horseshoe Tavern (November 12, 2011)

I’m always cautious about seeing an young and extremely hyped band live, as deep down I’m afraid they won’t be able to live up to their reputation, and the mysterious Manchester four piece WU LYF have been one of the most hyped young bands this year. To the uninitiated they are more than a little confusing. For starters their full name is World Unite Lucifer Youth Foundation and one of their two websites reads more like some confusing cult propaganda page than a band site. But contrary to their satanic name their songs feel decidedly hopeful and positive; sparkling guitar and pounding drums are soaked in angelic reverb then wrapped up with the cathartic cries form their almost incomprehensible singer. And that’s even before you try to decipher the lyrics. My favourite description of their sound is from the Pitchfork review of their album: “This is life-afirming music”. For a band that has this much buzz it was a great opportunity to see them at an intimate venue like The Horseshoe Tavern in Toronto, and I also paid less for the ticket than I usually have to for local bands. In the end they more than met my expectations and it ended up being one of the best shows I’ve been to this year.

WU LYF Live Video Playlist

Their wasn’t too many surprises in WU LYF’s set. They started with the song LYF and then continued almost track for track from their debut album Go Tell Fire To The Mountain, though they did skip We Bros so they had something to save for an inevitable encore. WU LYF’s live shows are often described as Cathartic, and that sums it up well enough. The crowd was overly enthusiastic, singing along to all the yelps and shouts, slamming palms on the front of the stage, and building up to a foaming frenzy in tracks like Spitting Blood, Heavy Pop, and We Bros. If anything the band seemed a little shy of the crowds enthusiasm. There wasn’t much banter form the band either, but that didn’t really matter as it didn’t feel needed. The singer spoke only a few words in between songs yet these were even more incomprehensible than his lyrics. If he wasn’t putting it that voice when talking, he probably should be planning a visit to the doctor. There was nice moment at the start of their last song Heavy Pop when the guitarist took the microphone to give an endearing dedication to all us “true love people”, and if you saw the crowd half way through that song i’d forgive you for thinking you were witnessing the rapture. It’s been a long time since I’ve seen that much intensity and emotion between band and crowd at an indie rock show.

After a brief stage exit they returned for their encore amidst the crowd pounding out the intro drum beat for Dirt  with both hands and feet on the stage and floor. They started with a cover of Chris Isaac’s Wicked Game and then wrapped up the night with crowd favourite We Bros. The crowd got pretty frantic and there was a lot of pushing in the last song. In a quiet lull towards the end of the song the singer took a moment to tell the crowd “Stop hitting each other! This song is about having respect for you fellow man, so stop fucking hitting each other.” I find it somewhat ironic that for a song called We Bros, the bros are the ones missing the message. All in all it was a fantastic show, one of the best I’ve been to this year. If you haven’t heard of them, check them out. If you have make sure you see them while they’re touring. It might be your only chance to see them in a small venue before they explode.

Flickr Photogallery

Note: I didn’t take many photos of at this show because I decided to try and capture as much as a could on video. The sound isn’t perfect since I was right at the front of the stage and so mostly picking up the stage monitors, and the video is pretty shaking since the lens I had was not really wide enough for being that close, and I was getting bumped around by the crowd. But I hope you still enjoy the footage!