The Walkmen at 10 Thousand Sounds, 6/22/13
|Photo By Erik Hess|
10 Thousand Sounds Music Festival
Downtown Minneapolis, Minnesota
June 22, 2013
After a day filled with all local (and locally connected) bands, New York's the Walkmen helped add some national flavor and prestige to the 10 Thousand Sounds festival with their headlining set. The stylish quintet's 70-minute, 14-song set stuck mainly to their slow-burning acoustic and piano-driven numbers.
10 Thousand Sounds Festival 2013: A music and photo timeline
Slideshow: Ten Thousand Sounds 2013: The Music
Slideshow: Ten Thousand Sounds 2013: People and Scenes
Slideshow: Ten Thousand Sounds 2013: Backstage
After frontman Hamilton Leithauser took to the stage alone to test out the tuning and levels of his acoustic guitar, he joked, "All right. I'll see you guys next week," before leaving briefly, only to return with the full band minutes later. As the group built up the simmering melody of "Line By Line" behind him, Leithauser stood pensively with his arms crossed over his guitar, taking in the crowd and the night, before he gradually joined in the musical fray with his wistful, impassioned lyrics.
"We're the Walkmen, and we came a hell of a long way to be here this evening," Leithauser explained before the band launched into the piano-laden "On the Water." The set continued on a bit unevenly, however, with the band delivering about one fiery song for every three somnolent numbers they offered.
|Photos By Erik Hess|
After "In The New Year," the slow building swing of "Juveniles" got the set heading in the right direction, with Leithauser's unifying claims of "You're one of us, or one of them" rousing their fans in the crowd to sing along. A feisty, anthemic take on "Heartbreaker" then got the audience dancing along to the classic, '60s-sounding riffs as the infectious song soared emphatically in the early summer night air. And when Leithauser spiritedly announced "Let's rock" before a gloriously inspired "Angela Surf City," it seemed that the band had finally found their footing, with Leithauser even joking with someone in the front row who generously kept handing him bottles of water, "Are you buying these? I owe you like six bucks or something?"
Later, he got a loud ovation when he compared drummer Matt Barrick to Adrian Peterson, noting that he was playing the gig with a broken finger.
|Photos By Erik Hess|
An acoustic-driven take on "138th Street" proved to be the only offering of the set from the band's 2004 breakthrough, Bows + Arrows -- they chose not to play their epic anthem of unrest, "The Rat" -- which combined with a tranquil take on "We Can't Be Beat" again slowed things down towards the end of the show, though a vibrant run through of "Heaven" ended the main set strongly.
After a rather lengthy encore break of five minutes, the band returned and delivered a staid rendition of "We've Been Had," and Leithauser lumbered over the barricade and into the crowd as they played the song's closing notes out into the cooling night air.
Personal Bias: I've been a fan of the Walkmen for over ten years now, and their incredible 2012 First Avenue performance was one of my favorites of that entire year. I heard out the well-reasoned protests from my editor, who loved the show, but I wasn't entirely sold.
The Crowd: Definitely the biggest crowd of the entire day, filled with plenty of longtime fans of the band, as well as curious folks who had never seen them play before.
Overheard In The Crowd: "I like it when bands dress up nice for their shows." "I like it when singers take their shirts off."
Random Notebook Dump: You really can't beat seeing live music outdoors on a gorgeous summer evening.
Line By Line
On The Water
In The New Year
All Hands And The Cook
Angela Surf City
Blue As Your Blood
Blizzard Of '96
Woe Is Me
We Can't Be Beat
We've Been Had (Encore)