Woodhands bring on the sweaty dance party in Toronto

 

reviewed by Michael

You know Woodhands is having a good time when lead singer Dan Werb gets sweaty at only their second song.

On Friday, November 19th the electronic duo consisting of Werb on keys and synths and Paul Banwatt on drums played a long-overdue show at Lee’s Palace. While the two opening acts weren’t exactly stellar, Woodhands themselves more than remedied the situation.

First up was Grahmzilla, who you may know as one half of Thunderheist. Because of this association I was expecting really great things from his set. Unfortunately I was pretty disappointed. Perhaps I’m just not a big fan of DJing in general, but I had trouble paying attention.

Grahmzilla didn’t seem all too enthusiastic playing at first anyways. When he introduced himself, he suggested “you guys can talk or dance or whatever.” I’m not sure if suggesting an audience talk during your set is the greatest thing to do. There were a few people dancing but the pit in front of the stage was still pretty empty.

Next up was Toronto duo Bonjay, who stepped things up a little bit. The duo consisted of Pho, who did the beats while Alanna sang. Their style could best be described as reggae. I couldn’t always understand what Alanna was singing, but the crowd seemed to love her.

At one point they did a cover of a Feist song- my friends and I were unable to figure out which song it was.

Then, about ten minutes past midnight Woodhands finally took the stage. The crowd went absolutely insane just with their first song, “Pockets” from Remorsecapade.

They transitioned from “Pockets” to “Can’t See Straight” which just kept the energy flowing. It was obvious that a lot of people at Lee’s Palace were Woodhands fans and hadn’t just wandered in on a whim. I could hear the crowd chanting “Why can’t I speak to you?” along with Werb.

One thing that is so great about this duo is the chemistry they have on stage. Banwatt made just as many comments on stage as Werb did, and in an intro to one of their songs Banwatt said “I have something to tell you… I whip my hair back and forth.” He then repeated the lines of the infamous Willow Smith song several times more before actually beginning their song.

Over the course of the night they played a good blend of songs from both Heart Attack and Remorsecapade. Towards the end of the first set they brought on Maylee Todd, who sang through all three songs she’s recorded with them- they started with “Dissembler,” then singing “Sailboats” and then finally the fan favourite “Dancer.”

I should take a moment to describe the power that “Dancer” seems to have on the audience. Every lyric to the song could be heard chanted from the audience, but when Werb moved on the chorus “You’re a very good dancer/What is your name, what is your name?” the crowd went more insane than usual. Everyone jumped up and down and yelled the chorus right back at Werb.

Unsurprisingly, based on audience response, Werb and Banwatt came back out to play an encore. They first played a remixed version of “CP24” and then played another great Heart Attack track, “I Wasn’t Made For Fighting.”

As they left, the crowd could be heard chanting “One more song! One more song!” and then the duo came back out to sing “Be Back Soon” which caught not only the audience by surprise, but Werb and Banwatt too.

Woodhands have some kind of power. They have taken electronic music and made it accessible to virtually every kind of demographic. And Dan Werb is one of the only people who can make a keytar (and a keytar solo) look really, really cool.

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