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A Euro tour kickoff party for the Wohl band in a curious place – the Palindromo.

The Palindromo in Guadalajara is a curios place. Set on a leafy street in a nice residential area of the city, it describes itself as a cultural forum and bar/restaurant that has a platform to promote the arts, and literature, music, theater. It boasts a  calendar of different activities that range from book readings to post-punk music. It was the music that took me there last Saturday night, specifically the music of the Wohl band.  I got a lot more than I bargained for, and happily so.

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Wohl

I had seen Wohl at the FIMPRO music convention in Guadalajara and was taken by their technically superb post-rock melodic instrumental compositions.  Saturday was a going away party to kick off their European tour and it promised to be an exciting night.  The poster for the concert listed two other bands – Polar Dreams and the Downlights – who I did not know but felt they must be pretty good if they are onstage with Wohl. They were.

I got there around 8:30 for a 9 pm show entitled The Origin of Movement (Wohl is a high concept band). You enter the Palindromo through a patio with tables and chairs filled with millennials, then go into a casual restaurant/bar filled with millennials young couples and a few children.  There are tables, couches, love seats and a long table facing a black curtain with outlets for computers.  The place was bubbling with energy – laptops, cellphones, couples, groups talking and laughing.  The bar hummed and good smells came from the kitchen. Behind the black curtain was another world.

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Polar Dream

I heard mic checks sound from the behind the curtain, so I brought my equipment in.  The room was a full-scale rock club – big stage, lots of lights,  speakers, musicians standing around waiting for their turn to tune-up.  Wohl was onstage just completing their checks, so I quickly figured out that the three more bands to go (a third band whose name I missed was brought in to open for the show).  The show was scheduled for 9 pm, which I know would not happen. It did not.  Things go going around 10:30 pm.

Didn’t matter. The music blew me away. When the Downlights started setting up lead guitarist and singer, Erick Castro asked me for my stool (one of the few on the floor) to put the drummer’s computer on.  I said por supuesto – of course –  and he thanked me in in perfect English as he handed it up to the guys on stage,. Their set was amazing anthem rock in Spanish and English (there was a lot of English in both lyrics and conversation all night).  Castro is an outsized personality with a mile-wide, mischievous grin. Once onstage, he threw off his black leather jacket and became a whirling dervish with a guitar, leaping, dancing turn, jumping down into the audience. The women in the audience could not stay away from him and everyone knew every word of the band’s songs.

The stage was bathed in very high contrast deep red-violet light – great for theatrics but terrible for video.  Nevertheless, the energy in the room was pure high voltage as Castro and the band played their set, took selfies with fans, signed stuff. The room was jammed from the first note– I counted 200 people not including folks in the restaurant (the black curtain was gone) and got more so as they played. It felt like a stage at Coachella.

Before the show, I had grabbed a small wall-mounted shelf in the front of the room, just next to one of the bass speakers (I had my tuned earplugs in) and laid out my video equipment to reserve the space before shouldering my way to the front of the stage.  During the break, the crowd loosened and I worked my way back to the table. My gear was still there but so were several beer bottles and a really good smelling dish of French fries (I resisted the temptation to sample).  However, it reminded me that I could get some dinner when the concert was over.  Didn’t happen. The concept part of the night got started with Polar Dream.

 

A five-piece high concept post-rock instrumental band with keyboards and synths – one played by the only woman onstage that night – treated us to a veritable journey of sound, bending notes, changing rhythms and tempos, and doing things with guitars that didn’t seem possible. Many of the songs in their sets settled into strong 4/4 rhythms that veered into other tempos and then disappeared into ta mist of guitar distortion, pedal manipulation, and feedback before resuming.  The technical prowess of the band was astounding; what seemed like experimental chaos at times was perfectly played, no notes were out of place.

Wohl hit the stage close to midnight but the wait was worth it.  by that time I am the other journalists at the front of the stage had established moves to allow each other to shoot without invading each other’s frames and to move around for different angles. Wohl is a four-piece instrumental group, formed in Guadalajara, in 2013. They combine influences ranging from metal and rock to classical music and electronica. En Vida is the band’s first studio album, released in May 2017 and nominated for Album of the Year in the Canica Revista Awards 2018. They have just released a new digital track, “Abaco” and a single “Sueno” both of which they played at the Palindromo,  Wohl’s fans were out in force, moving in unions to the rhythms and swaying like a single organism to the swirling melodies.

They did a long set with songs from their album, the two singles of course, and a few I had not heard before. The audience cheered many of the songs, so the room was full of loyal fans (I talked with one later who has been following the band for 2 years drummer – the kind of loyalty bands love. The next they took off on their European tour, posting a photo from Sweden, with no apparent jet lag.  It will be very interesting to see if the trip changes their music.  I am looking forward to more posts from the countries they visit.

When I finally left a little after 1 a.m., the band had wrapped up and were greeting friends and hugging fans and each other, taking selfies, and working their way to the merch table.  I wound my way through the restaurant, which was still serving, said my goodbyes and drove home through a blissfully traffic-free Guadalajara, looking forward to my next trip to the Palindromo.  I like it.

Patrick O’Heffernan

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About musicfridaylive (77 Articles)
Patrick O’Heffernan, PhD., is a music journalist and radio broadcaster based in Mexico, with a global following. He focuses on music in English and Spanish that combines rock and rap, blues and jazz and pop with music from Latin America, especially Mexico like cumbia, banda, son jarocho, and mariachi. He is a cyclist, dancing fiend and also likes to watch his friend drag race. He plans to relaunch his LA-based radio show Music Friday Live as Music Sin Fronteras- Music Without Borders - from Mexico - stay tuned

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