WOLF! Ft. Scott Metzger
Event on 2018-03-02 21:00:00

Youre at a nightclub one night a few years agothe Lovin Cup in Brooklyns Williamsburg neighborhood, to be exact. Your favorite local singer is on the bill, so you got there early and grabbed the best table. You wait for the gig to startYou wait a little longerThe the singers backup bandguitarist Scott Metzger, bassist Jon Shaw and drummer Taylor Florethfile onto the stage. Then comes the announcement: The singer never showed up, so tonight its going to be instrumental music only. Oh, and all of its going to be made up on the spot, since none of these guys thought theyd be performing on their own. In fact, they never even thought of themselves as a band at all.What do you do? Well, you might get annoyed, give up you seat and stomp out into the night which would have been a big mistake. Or you might stay where you are, curious about what could happen, and witness the birth of one of the most innovative ensembles in music today.This trio is known now as WOLF! In some ways, theyre still doing what they did that night at the Lovin Cupcreating music on the spot, though now in front of audiences that stay put because they know theyre in for a few hours of daring, evocative and unpredictable performance. And, yes, theyre still working without singers.What has changed over these past few years is that their telepathy with each other has strengthened, their horizons have dramatically stretchedand theyre about to release one of the most compelling albums by any band in recent times.1-800-WOLF! represents everything that eludes chest-thumping power trios and even many small jazz ensembles. Nobody shows off. There are no fireworks, no screaming solos. In their place, the music of WOLF! overflows with atmospherea wisp of Parisian swing in Oaxaca Ox, a dreamy seaside mist in Bohemian Grove, a Tarantino moonlight spell on Furry Freedom, a creamy, gorgeous texture on Denim Love Affair, where Metzgers solo, as always unadorned by effects, is so spare its almost not there. And on every track, silences speak as eloquently as the notes they surround.Clearly, the guys in WOLF! feel they have nothing to prove. And thats why WOLF! doesnt sound like anything else, Metzger agrees. Some guys get up onstage and just play what theyve been practicing. Were the complete opposite of that. We play what serves the song.Who exactly are the well-matched members of WOLF!? First of all, theyre all Brooklyn natives, an important point by Metzgers measure. In Brooklyn, youve got some of the best in the world playing pretty much any genre you can imagine, he says. The bar is high here. Nobody wants to hear your flashiest shit. Nobodys going to be impressed. If youre going to play a solo, youd better really say something. Otherwise, nobody cares because everybody here has heard it all.Just as important, all three broke into music as sidemen professional musicians rather than wannabe stars. Metzger has performed countless sessions and shows with artists as diverse as Trixie Whitley, Phil Lesh & Friends, Moby and Nicole Atkins, while also holding down lead guitar duties for summer festival favorites, Joe Russos Almost Dead. Shaw has anchored the bottom end for Cass McCombs, Shakey Graves and Sharon van Etten among many others. Floreth emerged from New Yorks Collective School of Music and has since played shows with blues innovator Bill Sims Jr., guitarists Jim Campilongo and Avi Bortnickand singer/songwriter Kelli Scarr.As they established themselves as go-to backup players for New York artists, Metzger, Shaw and Floreth inevitably crossed and recrossed paths. As their instincts for playing together grew, they began getting booked as a unit. Still, it never crossed their minds to step out on their own until that fateful night in Williamsburg. At the end of that initial gig, when the club owner offered them a weekly booking as an instrumental three-piece, they finally realized they were onto something good.Branded with the name WOLF!, they evolved into a unique musical entity and then kept evolving. Our early stuff was kind of contained, Metzger says. As the years have gone by, weve learned to represent more influences. We can introduce a noise aspect or free jazz elements. Weve become a lot less about guitar solos. In the beginning, we saw the guitar as the voice that was leading us. Now were more about creating arrangements on the spot as opposed to melody/solo/melody. Im not thinking, OK, Im gonna solo now. Its more like, Let me compose a cool part for where a solo would traditionally go.In 2015, Royal Potato Family released WOLF!s self-titled debut. This year they follow with 1-800-WOLF!, featuring tracks recorded in one afternoon at Marco Beneventos studio in Woodstock and the rest over three days at The Creamery Studio in Brooklyn. Each song was written in true WOLF! fashion, before audiences at gigs, with the exceptions of Furry Freedom, was was improvised and recorded in one take at the studio, and Youre No Longer My Friend, My Friend, a Buddy-Holly-Meets-Pulp-Fiction composition that Metzger admits to writing after watching an old kung-fu film titled Lady Snowblood.The point here is that WOLF! is not afraid to acknowledge its influences, from an echo of The Ventures on Furry Freedom to old-school electric blues with an actual guitar solo on All Dressed Up (Nowhere to Go). Yet there isnt a derivative moment on the record. Instead, the trios antecedents enhance the distinctive sound they continue to build together.To be honest, were trying to sound more like our influences than what actually ends up coming out, Metzger says. It just always comes out sounding like the three of us.As 1-800-WOLF! proves and as the bands upcoming plans to tour will demonstrate in venues throughout America, WOLF! stands alone even among innovative artists in its dedication to conjuring moments of unique and edgy beauty.It takes a lot of guts to get up each night and not know whats going to happen, Metzger concludes. Each night we play is completely different from every other night. I think it comes down to musical confidence and trust. The fact is, we can do whatever we want with this thing. And were just getting started.
at Gypsy Sally’s
3401 K Street NW
Washington, United States

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