Here is it! The LAST guest blog post of 2012. The Walkmen have rightfully developed a reputation for being a total powerhouse live. Their shows at Granada pack a wallop and was Sean’s best show of 2012. Here’s his story.
My friends all ditched me that night. I’m not petty, don’t hold grudges or anything, though starting this retrospective like that works against my case, but I am studious, honest, what have you. Therefore, I must present the night with all its facts and happenings. And the facts have it that I attended the Granada theater alone that night. No matter, my desire to see The Walkmen stemmed not from a need to socialize–although it did seem to be a deciding factor for the chatty blonde women who spent the entirety of the night discussing a variety of inconsequential topics. It came from years of consistently being impressed by the band’s output and consistently missing the band when they came through. Not this time, no, not even if I had to make the drive from Denton to Dallas with only my Ginuwine mix and the trash in my car to accompany me.
When Heaven came out, the reviews all pegged The Walkmen as a band of Dads for Dads (I, myself, am not a dad but have given birth to a beautiful baby reddit addiction), and they certainly seemed okay with the reputation. Publicity shots had them posing sharply dressed and with their children nearby or in hand. Heaven’s “Song for Leigh” had Hamilton unabashedly singing a song of encouragement to his daughter. Gone were the whiskey soaked days of Bows + Arrows that saw the band wailing about drunk calls and unrepentant exes coming around. Gone, even, were the sad waltzes that gave You and Me its dour, lovesick aesthetic.
But the Dad Rock label suits the band. Hamilton Leithauser has always had a mature and crooner-esc voice, sounding quite a bit older than his age, though it now matches his image quite well, and the band has embraced vintage instruments throughout its tenure. So while many reviewers used the dad angle as a pejorative, it seemed to me as more of the logical progression.
My only worry when purchasing tickets to see the band, then, was that they had lost the frenzied energy that gave birth to songs like “The Rat.” As if they aimed to ease my doubts (and why wouldn’t they? I’m pretty important), the band launched into “The Rat” and “Little House of Savages,” back-to-back and early in the set without any hint of age at all. Leithauser proves his worth with just about every note he belts out, whether it’s on the up-tempo rockers in the set or one of the many ballads that make up 2012’s Heaven. The band around him is just as assured. Matt Barrick’s drums are propulsive on tracks like “Angela Surf City,” and as he plays, he bounces around with the giddy enthusiasm my ten year old nephew displays whenever he gets a pair of sticks and something he can hit. The others aren’t as fun to watch on stage, but they play their instruments impeccably. Every chord sounds meaningful; every organ swell seems meticulously placed.
Seeing The Walkmen live is watching confidence incarnate play its tune. With every song, the band demonstrates why they’ve stuck around all these years and why they are consistently among indie rock royalty.