Ok, let’s start this.
First off was Arms. I learned of them from We Listen For You’s Third Birthday party in NYC a few months back, though I learned very little because I am very lazy. Mr. ZachThat recommended listening to them, and I should have done so before seeing them. Though unfamiliar with material from Arms, I thoroughly enjoyed what it is they do. Paying forward the recommendation, please click a visit over to Arms website, located here, and have a listen. Even go as far as to download the EP for free. You will enjoy it very much. Go on, I dare you.
Oh then we got to see Japandroids. Good. I caught them on the last day of Bonnaroo before ducking out early because I felt no need to stay after that. Having them as the last act of my Bonnaroo experience was great, a nice wrap up to an endurance run of bands. They reminded me of what got me hooked into listening to music in the first place, so I was very happy to see them again. Though they had a few sound problems, I don’t think anyone cared. With their impressive setup of a few huge Fender amps taking up the whole stage, and a drum kit that seemed almost dwarfed by them, the duo from Canada ripped their sound throughout all of Zbar. Glad I brought those earplugs, which really didn’t seem to cut back any of the furious noise coming from the giant stack of speakers that were right in front of my face. Sometimes going near-deaf is just exactly what you need though. Worth it. They played through most of their long player Post-Nothing, with a few of their singles also surfacing for the set. Sing-alongs even happened to a few numbers, which is always nice when 250+ people are jammed into a room and are all on the same page. Good job, Louisville.
Then, The Walkmen.
There have been few shows in my lifetime of this caliber. Conan O’Brien at Third Man Records, Morrissey at Bowery Ballroom, and Stars at Kentucky Center for the Arts, just to name a few. The Walkmen hadn’t even finished their first song and this was already in the upper echelon of those significantly important shows. The Walkmen have forever been a personal favourite of mine ever since they came out on stage at Jillian’s to open for The Strokes, all the way back when Jillian’s was actually in business, and when The Strokes were good. So I made damn sure to catch their next Louisville show at Headliners and to be front and center for it. They just so happened to be there twice within the same calendar year much to my delight. I liked Bows + Arrows quite a bit, and their then new A Hundred Miles Off was growing on me at the time of those shows. But there was something about years later when You And Me was released that hit me like a ten ton truck of just how much their sound would be a permanent part of my life. As I mentioned in the preview post for this show, never in my life had I made a mixtape for that ephemeral special someone that didn’t include The Walkmen, though the favor was to never be returned. With each repeated listen to You And Me it kept solidifying their musical ties into the cars, bedrooms, and headphones of the saddest and happiest of each of those moments. After all, you cannot forget the songs that made you smile, and the songs that made you cry. Their latest, Lisbon, is slowly turning into that as I let it. Though it hasn’t hit me in that way yet, but these things take time, and I am willing to spend it. Seeing the collection of those new songs live on Thursday has now given me a wake up call to what I knew was there.
The first few songs of the set were from Lisbon, and each had a specific crispness to it that only The Walkmen can portray. After laying those new tracks down in the sardine-packed room to the sold out crowd at Zanzabar, they went into Canadian Girl from You And Me. Missing was the horn section, but present was the prowess of that song’s imposed feeling of warm comfortableness for being how the sad song it really is. Proceeding that was when they introduced “an old tune” of We’ve Been Had, which really picked up the long-timers in the crowd. Before going into the explosive All The Hands And The Cook, they dedicated it to the Michigan man who wrote a 5 page paper on the track, then wished him luck with the prison sentence. What a great way to go into a song, not an intro you hear everyday. The way they perform on stage is very sincere, but you can still notice tiny cracked smiles and know that they are in love with what they are doing. I don’t have the setlist (which were written on napkins) from the show, but some highlights from my perspective were On The Water (complete with whistling), In The New Year, Louisiana, Thinking Of A Dream I Had, Blue As Your Blood, and of course The Rat. I missed not having Red Moon and Stranded, but those are the smallest of complaints for this perfect show. Even after listening to these songs hundreds of times, and seeing them now five times it still sent chills as the soundwaves passed through and headed towards the back of the small room. That’s where the specialty of this particular show comes in. Seeing one of your bands that will stay by your side forever is one thing, but seeing them in a close, personal, and intimate setting is like nothing else in the world. It becomes your show, and sticks to your mind for as long as your mind is still in working order. Maybe even after that, only time will tell.