Woo Park is a five piece band bringing you a fine potion of psychedelic soul and R&B with jazzy jams and noises from the future. The group Woo Park (named after a friend who is pretty active in the music scene) released their nine song debut album Smokes at the end of 2014. Then as a sextet and now as a quintet, the album featured only one guest: Noname Gypsy on the final song “Future Plans Pt. III”. As a whole, the album is organic, lengthier than most 9-song projects, and vibrant as hell.
The phrase “jam band” has such a bad connotation within 2015, but Woo Park certainly jam, and they jam well. Guitar solos, a thumping bass that keeps cruising, rhythmic organs, nine minute songs, and a talented teenage drummer who's noted for being Blue Man Group's youngest performer. All of these descriptions occur within the confines of Woo Park. While they might fall into the category of a jam band, they're much more jazz-oriented, much more grounded in soul, much more focused on making effective, timeless grooves rather than 22 minute improvisations.
As they describe in their Bandcamp: “Forged in fire of youthful rebellion in Chicago, IL, Woo Park, a psychedelic soul [quintet] and musical assault from all sides, emerges triumphantly amidst a musical climate of uniformity. The live show is where the spirit of Woo comes alive; mind and body - performer and audience - become one, fueled by a sound which provokes a physical and mental reaction in equal parts.”
Since releasing Smokes almost a year ago, the Home Team titleholders haven't released any official music. That being said, the group was recently on WLUW Radio, a radio station based out of Chicago's Loyola College. They played a full set and WLUW had the cameras on deck, later separating the tracks and releasing them on YouTube. It was through this live session that we heard two new Woo Park tracks: “Tidal” and “Schnu” (featured above). The former track was later recorded during a Rax Track Session (featured below). Visual accompaniment of live sessions like these are actually more important for the five-piece collective, as their live shows appear to be their bread and butter. A great album and a great band, but the performance experience and free flowing atmosphere is where they truly shine. Plus, a guitar solo is always cooler in person than in a song.
Our contributing writer Justin Mackie once told me to see Woo Park live before listening to their official releases. While I didn't follow those rules (I've listened to Smokes numerous times but have yet to see them live), I anticipate catching a performance of theirs in the near future. Every time I mention how much I like Woo Park's album, someone always seems to respond, "Wait until you see them live."
I can't be certain, but given the two tracks above, I'm assuming that Woo Park is gearing up for a proper follow-up to Smokes. I'm not sure when we will be seeing that finished product from the female-fronted quintet, but something tells me sooner than later. For now, enjoy Smokes up above, as well as the two videos of unreleased material. Since I didn't discover their SoundCloud until after this article ran, we weren't able to select our "essential listens", but all of the included material in this article might as well be grounds for "essential." Listen to Smokes, listen to these live sessions.
Note: On December 11, they will be performing at Chicago's Reggie's Rock Club with Zaramela and Astro Samurai. Grab your tickets here.