The truth is, my reasons for going to the Casbah on Saturday night had very little to do with the actual music. While I enjoy The Walkmen, a sold out Saturday show at the Casbah wasn't really what I was in the mood for. But I went, and I'm glad I did, because The Subjects and The Walkmen were both great bands, but it was really crowded and I didn't want to be the ass who keeps going to the bar, pushing through the crowd, so I was up front for both bands in the beginning of their respective sets, then wandered outside. During The Walkmen, I met Dave, the singer for The Subjects and he was a really cool guy, so it was fun hanging out and taking in the band from the patio and letting the real fans enjoy the show up front. Natalie was taking pics for Pitchfork and Greg was up there watching, so once again, I asked Greg to write the review of the show.
And here's how he indulged me. God, I love that guy:
I must admit, I woke up Saturday morning still a little hung over after Thursday's Hold Steady show. Not to say that I wasn't excited to see the Walkmen for the first time at The Casbah, but ANY show that follows The Hold Steady takes one helluva effort for me to get up for. But after playing The Walkmen's previous albums Bows and Arrows, A Hundred Miles Off and the song-by-song cover of Harry Nillson's shambollically brilliant 1974 album Pussy Cats (which Nillson famously recorded, with John Lennon producing, over the course of a couple of drug and alchohol fueled months in L.A.) pretty much all day, I started to get that swell of excitement that I normally get before seeing a great band, especially for the first time.
Some friends of mine saw The Walkmen at The Casbah back in 2004 before I moved out here and raved how it was one of the best shows they had ever seen, which further fueled my fire for seeing this show. After my ususal pre-Casbah weekend show ritual of watching "Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas" and pounding back a 6-pack of Coors Light, I was ready to roll and took the walk down the hill for the show.
The Walkmen are an indie rock band from New York. If the lead singer for fellow Brooklyn band, The National, is said have the vocal stylings of Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen, then Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen comes damn close at times to channeling a coked-out Rod Stewart and a Bob Dylan who can actually carry a tune, which was in full effect for their stunning show.
Before the release of 2006's outstanding A Hundred Miles Off, the band toured a few months before the actual release of that album and previewed several of the new songs. That seems to be the case for this tour as well, as the band broke out several new songs, which sounded great and will hopefully find a spot on their next album. The band also pulled a few songs from the aformentioned A Hundred Miles Off for the show- the Dylanesque "Good For You's Good For Me", the melancolic beauty of "Another One Goes By" and one of the best songs I've ever heard about the state of Louisiana, aptly titled "Louisiana". I'm sorry though, "Louisiana, 1927" by Randy Newman is still the greatest Louisiana song I've ever heard, but The Walkmen actually come damn close to topping it, with Leithauser pulling his Dylan vocalizations to really great heights.
Of course, the set featured songs from the album that got me turned onto the band in the first place, Bows and Arrows, including the lo-fi stunner "Whats In It For Me", and my personal favorite off the album "Thinking Of A Dream I Had", which sounded a whole lot like Rod Stewart fronting The Velvet Underground.
I must admit I really don't know anything about The Walkmen's debut full-length debut Everyone Who Pretended To Like Me Is Gone, and I'm sure they pulled at least a couple of songs from it, as well. They even pulled my favorite song off of the Pussy Cats album as well, "Loop De Loop", which was a pleasant surprise for me. Overall, the band put on quite a brilliant show, and I was certainly not disappointed.
By show's end, my Hold Steady hangover was definitely long gone and I was left with that buzzed and fulfilled feeling one can only get after a great show. Plus, any band that utilizes a rickity, clangy, vintage upright piano during their live shows is alright in my book. I grew up listening to my aunt play one of them for a church choir, so they have a special place in my heart.
Fellow New York band The Subjects also was on the bill, playing The Casbah for the first time, and put on quite a show as well. They seem to me like they really have what it takes to be a really great band and should be worth keeping an eye on. The opening band was also great. Sorry, I cant remember their name; but it certainly wasn't because of a lack of a good show on their part. You can blame that on my "Fear and Loathing In Las Vegas" hangover, I guess.
Saturday night was the culmination of a great week of music for me personally and The Walkmen really topped it off with their show. The Casbah is an amazing venue, the best I've ever had the honor of stepping foot into, and I was glad I could close this memorable week of music out there. Until next time, take care and be safe.
Well, thanks again, Greg. That opening band was locals Goodbye Blue Monday, and I'm sorry that I missed them. Oh, and here's the fun we were having on the patio.