[live review] WU LYF @ the Middle East

Sustainability in indie music is a motherfucker, probably more so than any other realm of music. All it really takes in pop music is one hit, then you can slide off comfortably, unto giant piles of cash. Hip-hop is different because recognition is a damn near impossible task in it's own right. Nowadays, a record contract is a pipe dream unless you're willing to compromise your integrity via swag and a snap-back. And classical music? Record a couple sonatas and they'll be reppin' your shit for centuries.

But with indie, the common perception is adapt or die. Look at Vampire Weekend. In one album's time, they went from prep school patsies to the whitest ambassadors of world music you know. A retread of your first album likely spells doom, regardless of how original a lane you paved on your first effort. Example: Clap Your Hands Say Yeah. I will defend their debut to my death, but a shitty followup has rendered them the butt of every buzz band quip from now 'til forever.

It's unlikely that this onus weighs too heavily on WU LYF, with them still basking in the twilight of their initial wave of acclaim and all. The concern was very much tangible watching them perform last night at the Middle East, however. For a band that is seemingly so wrapped up in their own image and perception, how can it not.

As they exist now, the hype is understandable. A young Brit outfit that somehow manages to both wear their influences on their sleeve and bundle them in an original sounding package. It's not difficult to imagine these kids getting into music around the time that fellow Manchesterians Oasis had basically become a parody thanks to infighting and cocaine. Instead of straight ripping off their sound, they bastardized it, but in a good way, maintaining the jangly pop stylings while replacing Liam's croon with a Kermit the Frog impersonator.

The thesis from that Guardian piece linked above proclaiming them a product marketing genius is palpable in their live show as well. Last night, they dropped incongruous hip-hop ad libs throughout their set, incited frenzy by throwing water at the crowd, and singer Ellery James Roberts even tried to trick us into believing that his scathing yelp is how he sounds outside of song, dawning his best Tom Waits impersonation for between banter.

But as I said, the hype is understandable, and deserved as well. The video for "Spitting Blood" is a pretty indicative of the energy they maintained for the show's duration. Whether they'll be able to keep the ball rolling is anyone's guess. I'd wager not. But as long as they keep scorching the earth that they currently inhabit, who the fuck really cares.

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