Sunday, September 20, 2009

Lost In Boston: The Walkmen in Concert

First off, I wanted to take a minute to welcome the new Happiness bloggers, Steve Waslo and Jake Mogan. Steve's a longtime friend of Eli and I from camp, and those car rides he mentioned below are some of my fondest memories from this past summer (who doesn't love screaming every word to Aeroplane?) Jake and I chose to room together at Boston College this year when we realized we were into the same music, and considering all the concerts we've been hitting up, it's going to be great having him contributing to this blog. Now, onto The Walkmen..


Jake was actually the one who recommended that I see The Walkmen, as he saw them both at Outside Lands and Sasquatch and was impressed with both shows. I spent the preceding days listening to their older albums- as I only had their (fantastic) 2008 release "You & Me." In a last minute decision, I managed to get the last ticket to the show at the Middle East in Cambridge. And so there it was, my first ticket to a real concert at the Middle East- that venue I had dreamed of going to for so long but was never allowed due to my age. The thrill of feeling old was soon trumped by the angry man at the door who drew large X's on my hands, indicating I was underage. Soon thereafter I was yelled at for resting my elbow on the bar...




I would not let this constant battering get me down, after all, I was seeing The Walkmen! When they took the stage I was still unsure of what to expect. Not far into the first song I was struck by how much of a unit the band was. I realize now after researching the band that it makes sense that their music was so cohesive- they've been playing together since they were 10 years old. It truly showed in the complexity of the music they made, which was a layering of so many different styles. The crooning of lead singer Hamilton Leithauser (who surprisingly looks about as clean cut and prep-schooley as his name suggests) was at times reminiscent of Dylan, yet the backing music could be compared to the likes of The National or Beirut (so basically, an indie kids wet dream). The distortion on the guitar in songs like "Canadian Girl" is where The National could be heard best, but it was the soaring horn sections in songs like "Red Moon"
and "Louisiana" that completely won me over.




This combination of old and new influences was noticeable in the makeup of the crowd. For example, I was there with two friends who are a handful of years older than I am, yet we all loved the music these guys were making. One of my friends asked me if I could pick up on the "older" sound of their music, which I admitted was hard to miss. Yet this old-timey feel only ran so deep, as we could all hear their more contemporary influences just as well. The rest of the crowd seemed to be the same way- a lot of black X's, yet just as many wedding rings (and mothers who seemed preoccupied with the well being of their newborn...)

While I am certainly not familiar enough with the material to be able to remember the set list, there were some clear standout tracks (some of which I have already mentioned). "The Rat", arguably their most well known track off of 2004's "Bows & Arrows", revved
the crowd into a huge head banging sing-along. Yet, the highlight of the show came during the encore, where they played "In The New Year." I hate to get all sentimental like I did in my Flaming Lips post, but if their encore of "Do You Realize??" was about looking back and reminiscing just as school was about to start, then "In The New Year" felt like a musical pat on the back, compliments of Mr. Hamilton Leithauser (at right). Check the lyrics-

"I know that it’s true
It’s gonna be a good year
Out of the darkness
And into the fire
I’ll tell you I love you
And my hearts in the strangest place
That’s how it started
And that’s how it ends"

I'm beginning to feel like my blog posts are becoming more like journal entries. I'm sorry, disinterested reader.




Here are the tracks, which are probably all you really care about..


"Lost In Boston" (interestingly, they did not play this track at the show...it's worth checking out, though.)


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