Saturday, January 24, 2009

the walkmen at the wonder ballroom

booth and i walked two miles north to the wonder ballroom last night to see the walkmen play. i was pretty excited. i spent nearly twenty dollars on a ticket, a sum i generally don't dole out for many bands, but to be honest, i was a little disappointed by the performance. the walkmen weren't untalented. they were played well, and of course i love their most recent album, so it was enjoyable to listen to them. but overall, the show was lacking, mostly from the deficiencies of the venue. the crowd acted horrendously. they jostled each other, talked loudly, didn't pay attention to the performance. one girl put an empty pbr can in the hood of a stranger's jacket. when he turned and discovered the can, he turned around and asked if i had put it there; i pointed to the girl already running away from his vicinity.

to overcome the volume of the large crowd, whoever was running the sound just turned the volume louder. this just made the band sound sloppy; the loudness causing too much echo and cancellation in the large space. the wonder ballroom looks like it was originally a church in its first life, and the large room out of which the venue operates was not designed with acoustics in mind, so there was a loss of fidelity in the performance. one of the best aspects of the walkmen's latest album is the crispness and precision of the instrumentals, yet all that was lost at the wonder ballroom.

and really, i was slightly disappointed in the band itself. the band members deviated every now and then from the structure of their recording, but sometimes these deviations seemed to surprise the other band members and this led to several awkward moments when an instrument seem to abruptly end the theme it was playing to carry on with something different. still, the improvisations weren't even daring. when grizzly bear experiments with a song, the rendition ends up sounding radically different, almost as if a completely different band were playing it. during one ill-fated song, the singer seemed to be unable to hit the correct note; his voice sliding into several flat notes before saving himself too late. this occurred during only one song in which the singer was sliding between notes during the entire piece, but apparently this was just straining his voice, or he couldn't hear himself well enough to pull it off.

all in all, i love the walkmen, and enjoyed seeing them last night, but this was far from my favorite performance.

No comments: