Show Review: The Walkmen @ Stubbs (3/4)

First show at Stubb’s of the 2011 Season for me and it was a good one.  The Walkmen brought the Head and the Heart along and had TV Torso do the opening honors.  There were some changes to the gravel pit, over the quiet period.  More on that and the show after the break…

Stubb’s – Let’s start with venue news.  The main stacks have been chopped down a bit to soften the noise to the apartments to the north and pushed further left and right of the stage to open the view.  Rear fill speakers seemed to take up the slack for you lollygaggers out back, offering up a louder clearer relay.  The grounds crews also leveled the area in front the stage, improving parity for early space fillers and removing a few of the valuable ridges of elevation change that the venue savvy sought after during the mad dash in at doors.  The photo pit is a tad smaller, but also a little higher thanks to the leveling.  Overall, sound seemed better balanced.  Nice improvements.

TV Torso – These guys have opened at least four shows I have been to over the last year.  They continue to mix up the set a bit, sounding cohesive, playing through the tunes that have been circulating the intarwebs.  I am certainly looking forward to what’s next for the gents from Austin.

The Head and The Heart – Having resorted to splitting at work listening between KEXP and Radio K after’s unfortunate demise a year ago, I am fairly up to speed on the goings-ons in their local markets.  Seattle’s The Head and The Heart are receiving much deserved airplay on KEXP.  Vocals get swapped back and forth, complimentarily between Josiah Johnson and Jonathan “No Shoes” Russell.  Finishing out the outstounding harmonies is Charity Rose Thielen.  You are struck by how well they work together, yet how well they stand on their own.  No song did this better than “Rivers and Roads”, beautiful work.  Find them during SxSW.

The Walkmen – Coming off of The Head and The Heart and the beautiful end to their set, The Walkmen eased into the space themselves.  “Blue as Your Blood” was the slowly building start.  Now I may have been in photographer black-out, but I am pretty sure “Angela Surf City” followed with its clean guitars and stepped up drums, the floodgates opened by Paul Maroon’s powerful vocals and the band’s familiar ringing guitar when hitting the chorus.

The performance would hit highs and highers as the band arced through their catalog. “In the New Year” and “Woe is Me” stuck with me after the band left the stage, two songs I wouldn’t have expected to have the post show staying power.  “The Rat” set many audience members up for departure, it was so good that it had to be the closer, but no.  The most balanced, powerful, mournful and mesmerizing song was “We’ve Been Had.”  It poured out, effortless, plinking piano floating after the band shuffled things up on stage.  I was happy.

Whitman – They batted clean up with a freebie inside.  I used my fisheye lens.  So there you go, a lovely loud close…


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