If you have not yet heard of the merry band of misfits that is Will Wood & the Tapeworms, you could not even begin to comprehend what you have been missing out on. Led by the enigmatic, mysterious, and always entertaining figure known to the public as Will Wood, this is a band whose music captivates the second it hits your eardrums. Aiming to do to the avant garde what Green Day did for punk rock (as once stated by Will himself), this is a band that is genre bending and blending, fusing bits of punk rock, jazz, emo, ragtime, and I’m sure several other genres into an amalgamation that is original, catchy, and mildly disturbing in the best way possible. This band has developed a devout cult following in their home state of New Jersey over the past few years, and this show was a welcome home from the tour that the band recently embarked on throughout the east coast. The fans at Debonair Music Hall welcomed back Will Wood & the Tapeworms with open arms, along with balloons, bubbles, confetti, and shovels raised high in the crowd.
When Will Wood & the Tapeworms took the stage, the eager crowd went wild, singing along to the opening song “Love Me Normally,” a fan favorite and one of Will’s first breakthrough songs. This was followed by a song that never fails to rile everyone up, the high-energy “6up 5oh Cop-Out (Pro/Con).” This was the first song I had ever heard from the band when I first encountered them at a show about 2 years ago, and I was immediately hooked. Will constantly engages the crowd while performing, encouraging call and response to his lyrics, hopping into the crowd and singing to and along with his fans, and even crowd surfing back to the stage. This show had more fan involvement than any Will Wood show to date, as certain crowd members were given tasks to partake in during the show, such as shooting a bubble gun, activating police lights, blowing kazoos, and tossing balloons during specifics songs of the set. One of the best aspects of a Will Wood show is the camaraderie that can be seen and felt amongst the fans, despite what an eccentric variety of people attend these shows. Will Wood’s dark, complex, and introspective lyrics are adored by the outcasts and the freaks; the ones who never felt that they fit in all find a place that they belong at a Tapeworms show, myself included.
About midway through the show came a song that I’m sure many fans could not wait to hear, which was “Hand Me My Shovel, I’m Going In!” The reason I say this is because a loving fan decided to make 20 shovels out of PVC pipe and duct tape and hand them out to random fans, and believe me when I say that all shovels were in the air when this song started playing. Sound strange? Well that’s not even the half of the craziness I witnessed in the crowd at this show. A plate was smashed over the guitarist’s head for eating food on stage. A massive gentleman around 6’4” stage dove into the crowd. Someone dressed as Spiderman crowd surfed. The list of insanities displayed at this show could go on and on. Perhaps the most entertaining part of the performance was when trapeze artists known as Vertical Fixation joined Will Wood & the Tapeworms onstage toward the end of the show during their last few songs, and they were also dancing throughout the crowd as the show progressed. Will closed out the show with a few solo songs, just him, a microphone, and his keyboard, and the crowd was in awe for every second of his performance. Again, if you have yet to hear of Will Wood & the Tapeworms, they are a band that is on the rise and fast, so I suggest you check them out while they’re still local before they start selling out venues nationally. Their live performance is unmatched, their music is intoxicating, and their fanbase is growing by the day, so do yourself a favor and become an adopted member of this beautifully dysfunctional family.