Will Dailey practices “trial by fire” for new songs at AfterHours

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Will Dailey practices “trial by fire” for new songs at AfterHours

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By Sam Cronin, lifestyle editor

“Hi, my name’s Will, this is Dave. We just met on Match.com a couple hours ago and we’re just making these up as we go.”

Will Dailey opened his performance at AfterHours on Sept. 25 with this cryptic introduction and went on to play an almost two hour set without explaining much else. Dailey and his drummer Dave Brophy were there to play, not talk, and the students in the modest crowd seemed to appreciate the background music of their last-minute booked show.

Will Dailey gave an intimate performance Wednesday. / Photo by Sam Cronin.

“It was very relaxing,” said Andrew Kearns, a second year economics grad student. “It’s good study music. I was gonna go to the library [to study] but this was kinda nice. Reminds me of [band] American Football.”

Will Dailey’s philosophy toward music, and toward live performances, is what he calls “trial by fire.” He treats AfterHours, where he plays about once a semester, as a place to test out new musical ideas. This show was no different, with about six new, unrehearsed songs included in the set. The way to get the best out of musicians, and himself, Dailey thinks, is to play live when they can’t take a break or overthink.

“You have to play because there’s people in a room,” Dailey said. “[Dave] reacts more in a panic. I busted out six new songs, ideas on him, mixed in with other songs, to get the raw response. All my new ideas I spring on him at AfterHours.”

Dave Brophy shows an intense game face at AfterHours. / Photo by Sam Cronin

Dailey and Brophy’s musical connection on stage is evident. Without knowing all of the music they’re playing, they still have a coherent sound, forged by fourteen years playing together. Brophy seemed to pick up on the rhythm he needed to play by watching Dailey’s foot tap or his strumming arm from behind.

The best way to describe Dailey’s sound is through his influences. He idolizes Pearl Jam, has played with Neil Young, Eddie Vedder and Willie Nelson and has performed with them at benefit shows including Farm Aid and Hot Stove Cool Music. He even played a slowed-down, reorganized cover of a Neil song, “Don’t Cry No Tears,” for AfterHours. While it was recognizable, it was unquestionably Will’s own version.

“I love Pearl Jam because they play a different set every night,” Dailey said.

His songs could both lull you to sleep with a slow tempo and then pick up to wake you back up, sometimes two or three times in the same song. His voice is a bit reminiscent of Coldplay’s Christopher Martin, but noticeably shakier and more sensitive, in the best way possible.

Dailey crooned with his eyes closed, an almost pained look on his face, as he swept up on the whammy bar to give a beachy surf style to his playing. His guitar playing alternated between the blues-rock riffs of his hit “Bad Behavior” and a quieter, more deliberate fingerpicking style on slower songs.

Dan Lutz, a second year computer science and cognitive psychology double major, was impressed by the performance and by Dailey and Brophy’s playing.

“I just remember it had a great beat,” Lutz said. “That’s what captivated me, it had a great rhythm. Made me consider looking these guys up.”

Dailey’s latest album, “Golden Walker,” was released June 1, 2018. He will continue touring North America and England through the end of the year.