THE WALKMEN: THE PHOENIX 03/02/2012


2012 marks the ten year anniversary of New York City’s favourite sons, The Walkmen, releasing their debut album. That record, entitled Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone, came out during a time of incredible hype for New York City rock. The Strokes, Interpol, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, and Liars all released genre defining records that instantly made The Big Apple’s musicians relevant again. Unfortunately for The Walkmen, their equally as good record got lost in the midst of the frenzy. So, while all the aforementioned bands are now experiencing declines in one way or another, 2012 sees The Walkmen in a very good place. Six records and countless tours later, the band is a model of consistency and quality. So what better way to celebrate than to take to the road and play a limited number of shows, which are being used as a showcase of the bands complete discography. This tour is being billed as “An Evening with The Walkmen,” so there is no use for an opening act, but there would be a place for an intermission though. Good thing too, considering thirty songs were going to be played.


The night started out with them playing the first four songs from the critically acclaimed second album, Bows and Arrows. “What’s In It for Me” was given its appropriate sparse treatment but the surprise was that the band followed that up with its biggest hit to date, the always rambunctious “The Rat”. By the time they had gotten through “Little House of Savages” the temperature in the room had reached a boiling point. Not that the heat would make the most nattily attired band in indie rock (sorry Interpol) remove their wool sweaters and blazers. True professionals. Soon we would be treated to the new material the band has been busy working on over the last few months. In an ill-advised move, they played three new songs in a row and in the process disrupted the momentum they had built to that point. These songs were the same ones they had played at all their recent shows and it does whet one’s appetite for the new album.


From that point though the band bounced from strength to strength, personal highlights included; a decidedly moody and sinister sounding “All Hands and The Cook”, the joyous “Louisiana”(with horn section), “Angela Surf City”, and the standout track from the You and Me record, “In The New Year”. Heck, by the end of the night they were feeling so good about things, they started taking requests.


When listening to The Walkmen you are instantly struck by a few things; Firstly, Paul Maroon’s reverb heavy guitars blending beautifully with the retro organ sounds played by Pete Bauer. Secondly, the seemingly endless enthusiasm and stamina displayed by drummer, Matt Barrick. Watching this man work the skins is always worth the price of admission alone. Lastly, the willingness for singer Hamilton Leithauser to shred his vocal chords each and every night on our behalf. Though, this was the first time I noticed him hold back, probably due to the lengthy setlist. That though, in no way took away any enjoyment of yet another mesmerizing Walkmen gig. In fact it only heightens my excitement for the next one!

MUSIC REVIEWS FROM THE HEART OF TORONTO