Titans of Ohio electron-jam-funk The Werks returned to the hallowed Bluestone over the weekend to thaw out the annual Winter Werk Out. The two-day event in Columbus, OH marked the first installment of the Dayton-bred quartet’s wintertime gathering since 2020.
Joining the local heroes at the former 19th-century Baptist church-turned rave cave was an impressive lineup of electronic artists including Opiuo, Daily Bread, Marvel Years, and DeFunk, in addition to The Re:Charge Room stage showcasing an array of up-and-coming producers. This electronic bent in the lineup reflects not only The Werks’ longstanding influences from the genre but also a recent shift in artist and lineup curation. Recently, The Werks announced that they will take 2023 off from throwing its flagship The Werk Out Music & Arts Festival in an effort to join forces with the new Secret Dreams Music & Arts Festival, also held at Thornville, OH’s Legend Valley, where The Werks will perform two nights.
Since returning from the COVID pandemic and welcoming back original bassist Chuckie Love in 2021, The Werks have gradually stuck their toes in the water of live performances. Staying close to home, the group has mostly kept to one-off shows and festival appearances, save for a two-night run at drummer Rob Chafin‘s Columbus hotspot Summit Music Hall last October.
On Friday, playing at their home-away-from-home where the band has hosted five Winter Werk Outs since 2017, The Werks jumped headfirst into a setlist that threw open the songbook in a way not seen since pre-pandemic. The sonic blastoff “Moonset” cleared the band for launch, initiating a massive jam sandwich that wound through covers of RJD2‘s “The Horror” and a jam of Lettuce‘s “Phyllis” before returning back to base with “Moonset”.
Having taken the stage following a set from Daily Bread, The Werks kept the dance party going with the disco decadence of “Stars Collide” before returning to their roots with the classic “Onslaught”. Keyboardist Dan Shaw let his progressive jamtronic epic “Flatiron” out of the cage next before an airing of the quintessential Werks song “Duck Farm”. The band kept it classic in closing the single-set performance, unleashing an “OG” that detoured through Daft Punk‘s “Robot Rock” in a continuation of the Werktronic theme—complete matching black tracksuits—before a hardcore second half of “OG” closed the show.
The Werks – “Moonset” > “The Horror” (RJD2) > “Phyllis jam” (Lettuce) > “Moonset’, “Stars Collide”, “Onslaught”, “Flatiron”, “Duck Farm” – 2/17/23
[Video: PROPIXEL PRODUCTIONS]
Saturday saw The Werks return to the Bluestone primed and ready to rock, kicking off with the standout instrumental “Into the Moss” from the group’s most recent studio effort Magic which will celebrate its sixth birthday on March 17th. Rob Chafin’s inspiring “You’re Not Alone” came next before guitarist Chris Houser took the Bluestone sky high with “Cloud Hopper”. The title track to Magic followed ahead of a throwback with “Galactic Passport”. Loading up the improvisational behemoth “Find Your Way”, The Werks took a detour through their beloved cover of the EDM classic “Sandstorm” before a reprise of “Find Your Way”.
On the second and final night of Winter Werk Out 2023, The Werks made sure to earmark enough time for a climactic encore. Taking the Bluestone stage once more, the band encored with “Dark Farm”, the remixed instrumental version of their seminal “Duck Farm”, to put a proper close to the return of WWO.
The Werks – Winter Werk Out – The Bluestone – Columbus, OH – 2/18/23 – Full Video
[Video: PROPIXEL PRODUCTIONS]
Check out a gallery of images from Winter Werk Out 2023 courtesy of photographer Adam Berta. Next month, The Werks will host the inaugural Motor City Werk Out in Detroit with ekoostik hookah and Hyryder. Tickets and a full list of tour dates are available here.
Setlist: The Werks | Winter Werk Out | The Bluestone | Columbus, OH | 2/17/23
Set: Moonset > The Horror (RJD2) > Phyllis jam (Lettuce) > Moonset, Stars Collide, Onslaught, Flatiron, Duck Farm, OG > Robot Rock (Daft Punk) > OG 
 w/ Hardcore section
Setlist: The Werks | Winter Werk Out | The Bluestone | Columbus, OH | 2/18/23
Set: Into the Moss, You’re Not Alone, Cloud Hopper, Magic, Galactic Passport, Find Your Way > Sandstorm (Darude) > Find Your Way
Encore: Dark Farm