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In concert: Wye Oak

Wye OakWye Oak's Jenn Wasner at the Black Cat on Sunday night. (Photos by Kyle Gustafson/FTWP)

By Ally Schweitzer

Strange that the Charm City band known as Monarch changed its name to Wye Oak last year, effectively repping its home state with a shout-out to Maryland’s state tree, then turning around and defying the trajectory of Baltimore rock music as we know it. In the notoriously weird, circuit-bending Mobtown, a band as tradition-steeped as Wye Oak stands out like a senator at a “Star Trek” convention. But in a city full of senators, where the twangy post rock band played the Black Cat backstage Sunday night, Wye Oak proved it can stand out on buttoned-down turf, too.

(New songs provide most memorable moments, plus more pictures, after the jump.)

Wye Oak

Coming off an album as overdubbed as this year’s “The Knot,” there was some question whether Wye Oak’s Jenn Wasner and Andy Stack could play their new songs live without, say, the E Street Band to back them up. That question was blown away the minute they charged into “Take It In” and “For Prayer,” as well as a pair of excellent new songs, delivered with the graceful strength of a punch to a goose down pillow.

The show’s only weak moments came when the duo reverted to the forgettable alt-country of their first record, 2008’s “If Children.” Opening with a couple of mid-tempo snoozers from that album was an unfortunate choice, but Wasner and Stack redeemed themselves with the sheer force and sophistication of their recent and as-yet-unreleased material. It’s every band’s wish to blow people away with brand new songs and it rarely happens. With that, the otherwise derivative Wye Oak is onto something all their own.

Wye Oak

By David Malitz  |  December 28, 2009; 2:19 PM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags: Wye Oak  
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