Journalism is the best when you get to spend three hours watching incredible bands play. One of the best examples of this is last night’s exquisite performances by adult-type-rock-band The Walkmen, supported by the incredible folk pop stylings of Father John Misty. This lineup was a match made in indie rock heaven, and it would have been a crime to sit it out.
Luckily, I didn’t do that. Up first was Father John Misty, fronted by J. Tillman, easily one of the most charismatic musicians I’ve seen in a good while, outside of the usual roster of seasoned veterans. He swayed his hips and danced around with the best, wailing almost every single cut from last year’s fantastic record Fear Fun, plus one brand new song, “Because I’m gettin’ pretty tired of singing the same 10 songs every night, over and over.” Throughout the show, he introduced the band, saying, “We’re Eve 6… it’s really good to be back!”, screamed about the lack of vegan donuts in Portland (spoiler for non-locals: it’s kind of our thing), and playfully bemoaned the fact that everyone was there to see The Walkmen (this isn’t true at all). During a raucous performance of “Well, You Can Do It Without Me,” Tillman dropped to his knees, screaming at his band, “I’M FINE! GET THE FUCK AWAY FROM ME! I CAN GET BACK UP ON MY OWN! I DON’T NEED YOUR FUCKING HELP!” before getting up and finishing the song. It was magical. The band blazed through the songs at a breakneck pace, and to be honest, I would have been happier with an extra half-hour (at least), on top of their 45-minutes on stage. Highlight: the freakout set closer “Forever Hollywood Cemetery Sings,” where the band roared on while Tillman swung his mic stand around, wrapping the cord around his neck. I was sure he was going to hit something with the thing, but he never did.
Father John Misty would be a really tough act to follow, but The Walkmen are a great band to do that job. It is spiritually perfect that the first time I saw The Walkmen, it was in support of The National, easily the only band which they can be compared to. They are on the very short list of adult bands making music for mature adults, which is an incredible premium these days. It speaks volumes about a band with enough incredible material that a song like “The Rat,” an easy lock for a set closer, was actually the third song performed. Throughout their hour-and-change, Hamilton Leithauser crooned his heart out, occasionally stalking around the stage. He picked up his guitar for around half the set, adding some incredible layers to Lisbon standout (and possibly my personal favorite Walkmen track) “Blue As Your Blood,” a song which I, personally, could not resist drumming my hands on a house monitor to. My knowledge of the band is paltry at best, but it didn’t affect how magical it is to see this band play live. Leithauser is a frontman for every thirtysomething that got to that age and realized that they couldn’t relate to their former heroes, because he is a hero to everyone who relates all too much to the band’s lyrics. And, considering the rapturous love expressed by that room, it feels like they’re finally getting the love they need, 10 years into their career.