Show Review: Yoni & Geti @ Brighton Music Hall 6.9.16
by Tim DiFazio, English, published October 6th 2016
Yoni & Geti have a lot to overcome in terms of past identities. Yoni Wolf’s name is inescapably tied in with his alternative hip-hop band Why?, and Serengeti’s primary claim to fame is his participation in supergroup Sisyphus. Thus, the two artists are forced to forge a new identity in the wake of fans who may want them to simply return to the old. In concert, they combatted this problem by blending the old and the new, performing tracks from their album Testarossa as well as versions of songs by Why?, Serengeti, and Sisyphus. Such a concert has the effect of demonstrating to an audience how their sound has, rather than leaving behind what their fans know and love, merged elements from their past projects into a completely new creation, promising that their creative output has far from peaked.
Although Yoni & Geti were excellent, this concert’s success owed a great deal to opener Tall Tall Trees. Tall Tall Trees is banjo picker Mike Savino’s solo act, and it is nothing if not unique. His weapons of choice are the remote-controlled “Banjo-tron 5000”, a set of looping pedals, and a collection of noisemaking objects (including several toy lasers). With a combination of picking, slapping, stomping, bowing, and singing, a single bearded man effectively created the sound of an eight piece indie outfit. And although he sounds like a gimmick from the description, his songwriting chops were actually extremely solid. It’s one thing to develop a completely unique method of performance. It’s another entirely to make it catchy.
After Tall Tall Trees’s frantic performance, Yoni & Geti quietly took the stage. Although they weren’t nearly as outwardly energetic as their opener, the set was still engaging. The joyous abandon with which Tall Tall Trees performed was replaced by a multi-faceted sense of connection. The friendship of Yoni & Geti was highly evident in their performance, and the audience was small but passionate about the music being performed. Predictably, the biggest reactions from the crowd came when they performed their older, more well-known tracks. One especially interesting moment was Serengeti’s solo performance of Sisyphus’s “Rhythm of Devotion”, where he did a surprisingly effective job of taking over Sufjan Stevens’s distinctive vocal performance. That night at Brighton, Yoni & Geti proved that a concert doesn’t need to be flashy to do its job. This show gave me a new perspective on their music and put Testarossa back into my regular rotation. If that’s not a successful performance then I don’t know what is.