Network News

X My Profile
View More Activity
Post Rock Archive  |  About the Bloggers  |  E-mail: Click Track  |  On Twitter: Click Track  |  RSS Feeds RSS
Posted at 11:10 AM ET, 12/ 6/2010

In concert: The Walkmen at 9:30 Club

By Chris Klimek

the walkmenHamilton Leithauser led the Walkmen through a pleasingly no-frills set at 9:30 Club on Friday night. (All photos by Josh Sisk/FTWP)

If Friday night's sold-out 9:30 Club show by the Walkmen didn't have much of a palpable sense of occasion about it, perhaps it's because these guys are just too head-down professional to allow any giddiness to creep in. Never mind that this was to be their final gig of a successful year; never mind that it was a sort of homecoming, to boot: Four-fifths of the Brooklyn group grew up together here in Washington.

Though absent sentimentality, it was a captivating evening of jaundiced, grandly put millennial indie sulk (with a some 1950s Sun Records DNA), of which the band retained complete control from the moment it kicked the party off with a booty-quaker called - er, "While I Shovel the Snow." It comes next to last on this year's confident "Lisbon" album. And it's a waltz. Two of the guys played triangles on it. "Half of my life I've been waking up," goes one line.

the walkmen

With that whisper of a tune, the group compelled the attention of the room and never gave it back. The Walkmen's best trick is the way Matt Barrick's fast-flurrying drums, Paul Maroon's surfing-the-Arctic-Sea guitar and Hamilton Leithauser's wraithlike vocals seem initially to be performing different songs, then fuse together with an immediacy that snaps your head back. The set would find room for two-thirds of "Lisbon," gathering in tempo and volume with the ferocious "Angela Surf City" and "Blue as Your Blood," a number that bridges the band's poles with coal-fired Johnny Cash verses and stratospheric U2 choruses.

Performing in a tweed jacket, trousers and a button-down, frontman Leithauser looks more like an adjunct professor than a rock star, but he's got a voice that shrinks big spaces, and the elusive quality of presence. By the time he brought on a four-piece horn section to lend a bent, regal sway to "Stranded," we'd have happily let him bum us out all night. Later, heavy-footed encores of "The Rat" and "Little House of Savages" reminded everyone that the Walkmen is still an aggressive rock band, but it didn't need 75 minutes of runway to show us that. This outfit is capable of vertical takeoff. It boils at room temperature.

the walkmen

By Chris Klimek  | December 6, 2010; 11:10 AM ET
Categories:  In concert  | Tags:  The Walkmen  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Stars of pop, rock and country serenade McCartney and Haggard at Kennedy Center; Michael Jackson's posthumous album makes the rounds

No comments have been posted to this entry.

Post a Comment

We encourage users to analyze, comment on and even challenge's articles, blogs, reviews and multimedia features.

User reviews and comments that include profanity or personal attacks or other inappropriate comments or material will be removed from the site. Additionally, entries that are unsigned or contain "signatures" by someone other than the actual author will be removed. Finally, we will take steps to block users who violate any of our posting standards, terms of use or privacy policies or any other policies governing this site. Please review the full rules governing commentaries and discussions.

characters remaining

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2010 The Washington Post Company