Show Review: Fresh & Only’s, Woods at The Independent, 7/29/11

by J. Lawrence King on August 2, 2011

Fresh & Only Wood

Friday night at the Independent saw and infusion of fuzzed out low fi, 60’s garage rock revival with New Yorkers, Woods and San Francisco’s own The Fresh & Onlys. This common bond of lo fi revivalism is about where the comparisons end with these two bands however. While Woods is known for their spaced out psychedelic jams that hover below singer Jeremy Earl’s haunting falsetto, The Fresh & Onlys play a much more straight forward style of rock and roll, relying on surf rock guitar lines. Where Woods will let their songs meander through dreamy solos, The Fresh & Onlys keep their songs straight forward and stick to their musical point.


Throughout the tour these two bands have taken turns opening up for one another. Friday night, probably to appease the San Francisco crowd, Woods came out first. This was one of those shows where it was difficult to determine who the audience came to see. The crowd never seemed bored or inattentive during Woods’ set even during the most drawn out solos or the melancholy of “Time Fading Lines.” Earl’s vocals are one of the real treasures in Indy music right now. When I leaned over my friends shoulder and whispered in his ear that I thought Earl was a combination of Neil Young and the Grateful Dead, someone else objected and screamed that he was like if Neil Young was influenced by Sonic Youth to which someone else objected that he was like if Neil Young was influence by Neil Young and…he was then lost in the chaos of hipsters slowly bobbing to the melody of “Blood Dries Quicker.” Woods’ set was an interesting display of dynamics. Their songs shifted seamlessly between the long drawn out jam to the short and concise. This dynamic displays one of Woods’ really strengths at a band: Earl’s songwriting. Not only is he and incredible vocalist, but he churns out incredible songs.

When The Fresh & Onlys came out it was difficult to imagine them living up to the incredible performance from Woods. But an interesting thing happened. It seemed as if the crowd shifted from Woods fan base to a Fresh & Onlys fan base. From the second they played their first chord it was
apparent that this was a San Francisco band with a San Francisco crowd. Everyone knew every word to every song, whether it was the infectious “Waterfalls” or the kitschy “Summer of Love.” Tim Cohen’s vocals, hidden behind that now en vogue layer of reverb, belts out catchy and memorable melodies like “Waterfalls,” and “Fascinated” without much effort and demonstrates why they are becoming the face of the burgeoning San Francisco garage rock revival.

Their set ended with Jeremy Earl reemerging on stage for one last Woods song before everyone left the stage and the lights went on. While both bands have become critical darlings its becoming increasingly difficult to understand the lack of media support of these two bands, especially for Woods who continually put out quality records each year and constantly put on phenomenal shows.

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