I could hear the salient, neo-soul breakbeats–could feel out the psychedelia-tinged euphoria–of Woo Park before I saw them. By the end of a third, jam-packed festival day in Chicago I was debilitated, strung-out and zombified. My ears felt ruptured from all the leviathan sounds I’d witnessed at Pitchfork, and, quite honestly, the last thing I wanted was to see more music. Fortunately, a friend I was crashing with obliged me to stop through The Tonic Room for a late-night set of what was only described as “music I would like.” Just after midnight, I trudged through the Near North Side until I arrived at the low-lit bar.
Upon entering The Tonic Room, I was forcibly battered upside the head by frontwoman Emily Nichols’ vocals, jagged and serrated as they were over all the vibey, freewheeling grooves interchanging between the six, sometimes seven, piece. A guest musician occasionally adorned the band’s sound with husky and fluttering unmiced tenor sax. It gelled well against the smooth, wayward meanderings of Parker Grogan on six-string bass, Brian Sanborn on electric guitar and Christian Zwit on keys and synth.
Woo Park are a young, fledgling funk and soul ensemble. They’ve played together just over a year and mustered up an impressive following through their local dynamic gigs, but as of now they have yet to release an official song. Tracks uploaded on Woo Park‘s SoundCloud page are live recordings of original songs like “Sex Jam” and “Like Mine” and covers like J. Dilla‘s “Dreamy” and Erykah Badu‘s “Annie.” Their performance, two hour-long sets, packed a serious punch, and for hours after my head was reeling as if some startling internal paradigm had shifted. Watch Woo Park play “#3” at The Firehaus below photos of their gig at The Tonic Room.