Why Don’t We Packs The Roy Wilkins


All Photos courtesy of Corbyn Jenkins 

Why Don’t We, the very first show I ever covered for Twin Cities Media a couple years ago. At the time of getting my assignment I thought “I am seeing WHO and going WHERE?!” as I headed my way to The Garage in Burnsville. I remember thinking many skeptical thoughts because as one who grew up in the age of Backstreet Boys and N’SYNC and later witnessed my siblings go bonkers for One Direction. I wondered where in all that would Why Don’t We find their place. Well they’ve found it and testament to their evolution as a group I found myself reuniting with them for a show in St.Paul and once again found myself amusingly out of place in a see of screaming teenagers who would have loved to rush the stage given the chance. Everything about Why Don’t We has come miles since I last saw them and I can’t help but admire these guys a bit after having the chance to see them go from a small 100 person gig in the suburbs of Minnesota to one of the larger venues which has recently hosted bands like The 1975.

Up first for the night’s high energy fans was Brynn Elliott. Who, as you may know from many of my previous articles, follows a trend of my being unsure who an artist is until I arrive. In this case I was actually racking my brain for a few songs before I realized I have listened to Brynn. Her track Might Not Like Me came on and the crowd knew it, but so did I. And honestly in those moments I have to chuckle because my age shows. I run across some of these songs out of chance while online and think “sure that’s a fun one” and toss it on a playlist. Meanwhile the kids around me have been going bonkers over songs like this and know full well who the artist is, their dog’s name, where they grew up, their favorite ice cream, on and on. I know none of that about Brynn but I admit I dig her music and look. It’s got a familiar 80s girl pop vibe that honestly resonates well even 30 years after the likes of Cyndi Lauper were on the big stage. The look, the sound, and the lyrics are all a new twist on the 80s pop I grew up listening to and her performance was solid throughout with a lot of energy to build into the next opening act.

If Brynn was off my radar in the music scene EBEN was hiding beneath it. I did some digging later on and found out his story to become an opener for Why Don’t We is pretty awesome. He has been apart of the group’s crew for some time and was part of their tour work for while when they decided to ask him to open for them. Since then EBEN has collaborated with the guys and is now a staple of their show. There’s more though, in 2012 he was a runner up on American Idol at the age of 12. At 12 I was busy trying to pursue a “career” in PC gaming I believe. In any event, his music. Being a fan of the EDM scene I have to compare his vibe to many of the artists I have seen in the last couple months. More of a laid back vibe with slow beats and a mix of rap verses and pop vocals. I’ll be curious to see what is next for EBEN with this opportunity opening for Why Don’t We. He’s been in the music scene for some time and has the talent we’ve known since 2012. I’ll be keeping an eye out.

Now, the main attraction and why you’re here. Why don’t we, discuss Why Don’t We. Sorry I had to. But really this was one show I was almost more intrigued to see the evolution of the group than I would normally admit. I’ve seen a few artists multiple times since getting into concert photography and reviews but none have been in the heart of their teenage years while also being so freshly introduced to the music scene. I’m glad to report though that these guys are evolving as I’d hoped. I joked in the time of seeing them the first time that they have a sort of new age One Direction jr vibe, but I was wrong in that. They’re very much their own brand and have their own look, sound, and energy. Why Don’t We isn’t worried about being the ultra high energy boy band of years past. Their music is more focused on romantic struggles, existential questions, and less abstract themes. Which I gotta be honest I was NOT expecting back in 2017 when I first saw them. I thought it was a selling point and not who they wanted to be. I know now I was wrong and they’re very much in their groove. I know this because as soon as their track 8 Letters  came out I said to myself in my car “THERE it is guys!”. Yes, by the way, fan of the song. It puts on display all the guy’s vocals and is one of the best examples of their vibe and general lyrical perspective I’d say.

As for their live performance yet again, things have come a LONG way. Yes the production level is much greater. Yes they were at First Ave’s main room and are growing. I know this, but it’s so much different to witness the evolution of a group in person. The stage presence and confidence of the group is light years ahead, they are comfortable interacting with the crowd, their movement as a unit is fluid, and their energy is clearly coming from a place of enjoyment for what they’re doing. I have no idea what the future holds for Why Don’t We but if they keep evolving their music as they age and grow together it should be something special. Openers to main act this was a fun one to see the growth of one artist to discovering others I hope to see them all again. Maybe next time will be at the Xcel. Knock on wood, quick!