Andrew H. Walker, Getty Images Nine days after the deadly tornado that touched…
- Posted on Jun 18th 2009 3:41AM by Drew Berner
The things multi-instrumentalist Dan Werb can do with analog synths, loops and a keytar put most electronic musicians to shame. Not only that, but he and drummer Paul Banwatt know how to rock a party like no other.
Banwatt -- whom fans may also know as the drummer for the Rural Alberta Advantage -- and Werb have been a tight unit for years, hitting their marks with ease and aplomb. But somewhere along the way they also became a masterful jam band. What were once three- and four-minute tracks on their debut album, 'Heart Attack,' are now 15-minute sonic adventures, wherein they might drop a classic hip-hop verse, carve out an instrumental break or quote Lady GaGa.
During their Wednesday night set at the Drake Hotel's Underground venue, headlining a NXNE festival-opening gig, they did all of the above and then some. There were a couple of technical difficulties -- specifically some slippery drum sticks and a virtually non-functioning stage monitor -- but once the Woodhands machine kicks into gear, they don't stop 'til the dancefloor is filled.
For a festival slot with little competition -- save for a not-so-secret Broken Social Scene show -- Woodhands drew a strong crowd of loyal fans and precious few industry types. The venue was at capacity long before they hit the stage, with camera flashes punctuating each beat of the first couple of songs. Once the photographers got their fill and dusted off their dancing shoes, the floor quaked under the booty-shaking.
Even after negotiating with Werb for a slower pace, Banwatt nearly destroyed his drum kit on the set's closer, 'Dancer.' It was a thundering finish for fans, but also a shot across the bow for Woodhands' dance-rock peers.