Live Review: Waxahatchee, Infinite Void, Julia Why?

18 February 2016 | 1:40 pm | Alex Michael

"Crutchfield's damn-tight band were all female shouldn't have been something that even registered as surprising — but it was."

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In Pitchfork's recent review of Waxahatchee's 2015 record Ivy Tripp, they praised lead singer Katie Crutchfield for being somewhat of an influential leader of a "DIY folk-inflected indie rock/punk scene, a spokesperson for a realm usually against spokespeople." The fact that Crutchfield's damn-tight band were all female shouldn't have been something that even registered as surprising — but it was. Its noticeability is a sign of an industry that still has a way to go in equality and correcting a public's perception who've long witnessed male punk band after male punk band; we have a long way to go in turning a 'movement' into a commonality.

Julia Why? were first up on the night. The band and in particular lead singer Julia Wylie (get it?) were ripe with energy and banter to supplement their Philadelphia Grand Jury-style 'one simple concept' pop-rock bangers. Those arriving to OAF early on Wednesday night were treated with lyrics such as, "He can't afford to buy me flowers, but he goes down on me for hours".

Infinite Void played like a delightful confluence of shoegaze and prog-rock; they offered a tighter set with instrumental builds and crescendoes, with vocals left washy and low in the mix. Tracks often recalled post-rock groups like Mogwai — one song in particular sounded a fuckload like R U Still In 2 It.

Waxahatchee walked out to rapturous applause and were treated to pin-drop silence between songs. When the lighting person brings their A-game and bands are this locked-in, good things happen at Oxford Art Factory. Crutchfield has a soft voice that shouldn't cut through all that distorted guitar — but it does, bafflingly. Less Than's cries of, "You're less than me and I am nothing" hit hard. Crutchfield's magnetism is undeniable; the energy feels raw and lived-in, her emotion genuine.

Through the half-assed privacy curtains stage right at Oxford Art Factory it was easy to spot the bassist from Infinite Void standing and watching the entire set with a look of gratification stretched tight across her face. She stood glued to the floor as if awestruck — just like the majority of the compact crowd. It's pretty cool and punk-as-fuck for a fanbase to not have a spokesperson or look up to anybody or anything, but even the die-hard fans were catching themselves with the same look of gratification that was emanating from side-stage Wednesday night; these people may not need an 'appointed leader', but it's hard not to get the warm-fuzzies when one bobs to the surface naturally, and with such conviction.

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