Photos by Chris Gray
The Walkmen look like such nice boys. They strode onstage at last night’s sold-out Walter’s show mostly clad in tucked-in button-down Oxford shirts, like they had just gotten off work – or, these days, just been fired – from some Wall Street investment bank. But they sure didn’t sound like a bunch of yuppies.
Instead, the New Yorkers gave the appreciative audience a tight set that split the difference between folk-rock and post-punk; imagine Neil Young & Crazy Horse’s “Everybody Knows This Is Nowhere” meets the Strokes’ “Hard to Explain.” It’s probably only an accident of fate that Kings of Leon are selling gangbusters at Verizon while the Walkment are still toiling in indie clubs, but that may not last much longer.
Having fun, drinking beer, the band careened from driving rock and roll – the chorus of “There Goes My Baby” was particularly huge – to songs that smacked so strongly of Coldplay I kept expecting singer Hamilton Leithauser to make an elaborate speech about fair trade. But then, I guess it shouldn’t come as a surprise they proved so adept at heart-tugging, trumpet-laced, toy-piano balladry. They do seem like such nice boys, after all.
L.A.’s Little Ones took the middle slot with a chiming set of pleasant indie-pop with more teeth than Vampire Weekend and more pep than Silversun Pickups. They’re the sort of band content to fill out their choruses with long “la la la la la la la la la la” passages, but with hooky chord progressions that lifted the songs past cliché (even if the influence of bands like the Police was rather obvious). It was as sunny as a springtime California day, and shouldn’t be long before they’re soundtracking the upscale angst on the new 90210.
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“You guys are really fun tonight,” the singer told the crowd about halfway through. Who says Houston hates indie-rock?
Nobody who saw Young Mammals’ opening set, that’s for sure. The former Dimes, still breaking in new drummer Ryan Chavez – whose Super Unison also promoted the show; talk about multitasking – delivered a kinetic set reminiscent of TV on the Radio and the Replacements, barely controlled but locked-in. After the show, guitarist Cley Miller provided more good news: the band is 10 songs deep into its long-awaited full-length album – but, truth be told, he sounded just as excited about his 21st birthday two short weeks away. – Chris Gray