Rock band Anthony Worden and the Illiterati awes Gabe’s with ’60s, ’70s nostalgia

Iowa City based rock ‘n’ roll band Anthony Worden and the Illiterati played a hometown album release show at Gabe’s on Feb. 28 for their latest album, Voilá.

Megan Conroy, Arts Reporter

The second floor of Gabe’s slowly filled with a crowd anticipating a night of excellent music. From 9 p.m. to around 11 p.m., the crowd at Gabe’s grew as friends and fans of Anthony Worden and the Illiterati arrived. Anthony and the band wandered through the friendly faces as they watched their openers fill the venue with rock ‘n’ roll from Thine Megababes and an instrumental set of trumpets and trombones from Jack Lion.

Anthony Worden and the Illiterati reunited with a hometown crowd on Friday, Feb. 28 to play a set composed of hits from their latest album, Voilá. The setlist also included songs from their prior albums Slouching Towards Tomorrow.

Jack Lion opens for Anthony Worden and the Illiterati during a concert at Gabe’s on Friday, Feb. 28, 2020. The Megababes kicked off the show before Jack Lion took the stage. (Jenna Galligan/The Daily Iowan)

The songs off of Anthony Worden and the Illiterati’s album released on Feb. 14th are part of the band’s style, but this was the first opportunity the audience at Gabe’s had to hear the new songs live. The group made up of Anthony Worden on vocals, Capel Howorth on bass, Carlo Kind on drums, Avery Hossman on the keyboard, and Elly Hofmaier also on vocals, created the album from a very collaborative and specific mindset.

“The songwriting process begins with more of an idea, like a demo or a few chords and maybe some lyrics,” Worden said in an interview with The Daily Iowan before the show. “I took the ideas to the band and we fleshed out the ideas up here [in the studio] last winter.” 

Listening to Voilá recreates the feeling of listening to vinyl records, which was “entirely intentional,” according to Worden.

RELATED: Anthony Worden and the Illiterati hope to rock their retro love in upcoming concert and new album

“We’re into old records. We did the record in a specific gear to sound like records of yesteryear,” Worden said. “We definitely sequenced it carefully. It transitions naturally from a more up-tempo rock influence into more mellow, Americana stuff.” 

Anthony Worden and the Illiterati opened with “Shake It Like A Clock,” followed by “How Long.” Hofmaier sang lead vocals on “How Long,” drenched in purple and yellow light from the visuals. Hofmaier stunned the audience with more than her soulful vocals; she played the tambourine, the bongos, and the guitar throughout the night. 

During the performance, a psychedelic visual played in the background. Kaleidoscope patterns of bright orange, yellow, deep purple, multiple shades of blue, and green danced over the band while they performed. The colors and patterns drew from the 60s and 70s nostalgia from the album and brought it to life for the audience. 

The combination of the horns and a drum solo from Carlo Kind paid homage to the 60s in a rock and roll reverie. The performance started with inspiration from the 60s and ended with a Bruce Springsteen-esque flare. The horns produced a flourish that felt as though thoroughbred horses were racing to a finish line for the trophy, and it was just as satisfying when the final note of the excellent song was played. 

The band said having hometown shows with family and friends together is almost like having a birthday party. Hometown shows at Gabe’s for Anthony Worden and The Illiterati are full of energy. The band knows they’re in good hands with Crystal Sherman, the sound engineer at Gabe’s. 

“We always know what it’s gonna sound like, and it’s gonna sound good,” Capel said. 

Anthony Worden took time before the encore of “Dime a Dozen Dudes” to thank his band members and all of the effort that went into their new record. “Dime a Dozen Dudes” was the perfect ending to a night of killer vocals from the combination of Hofmaier and Worden. Each song was performed with a genius intention set by Worden and executed beautifully by the entire band.