On Saturday, March 18 around 9PM, I began a slow decent down a dark, twisted rabbit hole in hot pursuit of The Real Will Wood. This time, Will was without his Tapeworms, and while he still performed all the fan favorites, this was a very different experience from a normal Will Wood and The Tapeworms show.
When the doors of Backroom Studios in Rockaway, New Jersey opened up, a small group of rabidly excited fans poured into the three-room spread where the live album recording could be held. The rooms were littered with balloons, confetti, and streamers. In one large and fairly empty room sat two microphones, two televisions, and a keyboard. Despite the small number of tickets available for this event, the room filled quickly as super fans crowded as close to the microphone as possible.
From the second the opening act (a comedian and friend of Wood’s) stepped up to the mic, it was very clear that the crowd was ready to participate as they quick-fired answers to every rhetorical question asked. A few jokes and stories later and it was time.
Will entered from the the back of the room, pushing through the packed crowd and straight to his keyboard. Here, he opened his set with a gripping story of a routine traffic stop and the driver’s options – “pull over, put a penny under your tongue and try to talk your way out of it…or gun it, gun it, gun it, gun it!” This flowed seamlessly into 6up 5oh Cop-Out (Pro / Con), a popular track off of WWATT’s album, Everything Is A Lot.
The night continued in this fashion – a story, a joke, a clever and careful weaving of words, and a lot of heckling (Wood even joined the crowd at one point to heckle himself), and then back behind his keyboard he would go to wow the crowd with his musical prowess.
Will Wood is undoubtedly one of the most musically talented people in his generation. He knows music, and being able to listen to him perform in such a stripped-down way was an incredible showcase of just that. This was a new way of hearing him, a way of getting behind the catchy dissonance of the jazz chords and down to the heart of the matter – a tragic story of love, loss, alcoholism and sobriety, all through the rose colored glasses of mood stabilizers.
In trying to answer the question, “who is The Real Will Wood,” the audience was lead into seemingly every darkened corner of Wood’s mind. There were highs – Wood throwing handfuls of confetti and human teeth at the audience while his fingers moved furiously across his keyboard – and there were lows. The show ended on an incredibly somber note as The Real Will Wood stood before his audience, and with a glass over his eyes and a slight tremble in his voice he said, “It’s okay to not be okay. It’s normal to not be normal…Thank you all for being here tonight and reminding me of that.” The crowd, silent for the first time all night, watched as Will passionately performed the final song, and then disappeared into the dark.
The Real Will Wood is hilarious. He is witty, and dark, and sad, and vulnerable, and a musical genius. The Real Will Wood is anything and everyone. This live album will be a beautiful depiction of life through music, and if you were unable to attend the live recording (or if you did attend and want to relive the night over and over again), I highly recommend that you get your hands on this album when it is released.