The story goes that Woods never intended to release a record this year, with last year’s City Sun Eater in the River of Light still fresh in everyone’s minds. Then the election happened, and in a quick outpouring of emotion, the band found they had written and recorded a six-song, 32-minute record reacting to the outcome. But rather than giving in to despair or anger, the central message of Love Is Love is one of hope, that no matter how bad things may seem in the short term, peace and love will win out in the end. At the tail end of a brief summer tour, the band brought their psychedelic folk pop to the Rock and Roll Hotel for an energetic set that helped to reaffirm that message for all who came out to see them.
While the new album formed the center of the show, with the title tracks (there are two, thematically related but different) of the record taking prominent positions in the setlist, the band played songs from seven of the ten albums in their catalog, going as far back as 2009’s Songs of Shame with “Rain On.” They opened the set with “Cali in a Cup” from 2012’s Bend Beyond, followed by “Be All Be Easy” from 2011’s Sun and Shade and "Leaves Like Grass" from 2014’s With Light and With Love. Adding in several tracks from City Sun Eater (including a blistering extended version of “Sun City Creeps”) and “Suffering Season” from 2010’s At Echo Lake, the set was as good a tour of Woods’ rapidly growing catalog as would be possible in a single evening. For the encore, the band played two more tracks from With Light and With Love, “New Light” and “Moving to the Left.”
Throughout, the trademark sounds of Jeremy Earl’s falsetto vocals and the angular dual guitars of Earl and Jarvis Taveniere punctuated the songs. Bassist Chunk Van Dyck and drummer Aaron Neveu held down the rhythm, with John Andrews adding additional drums and percussion. Kyle Forester, who had apparently missed the last several shows of the tour, returned on keyboards and saxophone, and frequently added humorous banter between songs while the rest of the band was busy tuning.
The show was opened by Andrews, whose own project John and the Yawns recently released their second album on the Woodsist label, Bad Posture.