With two of the hottest up-and-comers of today’s music scene, opening for the respected and established veterans of indie music, The Walkmen, you’d think all of Madison, Wisconsin would have crowded into The Barrymore Theatre on Saturday, October 16th, eager for one of the year’s most exciting and eclectic lineups. You would have thought so right? Well you would have been wrong. Dead wrong. The gig did not sell-out, not even close.
Miniature Tigers played to a half-empty room, and despite Beach Boys-esque harmonies and an infectious surf-pop aesthetic, they garnered only minimal applause. The Brooklyn quartet played a strong and efficient set that deserved far more audience appreciation. One hopes the half-hearted response does not deter these extremely talented musicians from gracing the isthmus in the near future.
The sleepy crowd needed an aural slap to the face. And who better to deliver a sonic awakening than Canadian garage rock group, Japandroids, whose much-hyped debut Post-Nothing had turned this energetic duo into blogosphere super-stars overnight. Their hook-heavy and brash instrumentation was just what The Barrymore needed to install a sense of vigor and gusto into the audience. With opener (also album-opener) "The Boys Are Leaving Town" they did just that. And then some. Full of shouts, fist-pumps, and exhaustingly careless guitar solos, Japandroids put on one hell of a show.
The contrast of The Walkmen (compared to both openers) was apparent the second the band walked out on the stage. Dressed in collared shirts and loafers, with well-coiffed hair, The Walkmen reeked of confidence and cool. They launched straight into a deliberate and consistent, albeit predictable, set.
They began with songs from Lisbon (QRO review) played in chronological order. The Walkmen perfectly segued "Juveniles", with the anthemistic and beguiling "Angela Surf City". They actually played most of their stellar sixth album, with standouts being "Woe Is Me" and the beautiful ballad "While I Shovel Snow". Frontman Hamilton Leithauser’s gruff croon, perfectly complemented the heavy-handed drumming of Matt Barrick, and the deep and resonant guitar licks of Paul Maroon.
The Walkmen masterfully occupied the stage for the duration of their set, and even with the absence of the band’s most famous song "The Rat" (QRO video), they proved that they completely deserve their position as the kings of indie music.