At 11 p.m. on Saturday night, tens of thousands of people stood in the middle of the desert trying desperately to forget themselves in some truly great music. Sadly for them, the very thing they trekked to the desert in search of was taking place 137 miles in the opposite direction, for a cover price of $15.
One can always expect a standout performance from the sinfully talented band that backs up the Walkmen lead singer Hamilton Leithauser. Paul Maroon is consistently a revelation on the piano, and to watch Matt Barrick play his way through the opening of “The Rat” is to conclude that his name belongs on any list of rock drummer elites.
But Leithauser's voice can be a hit or miss affair, often dependent on how road weary it is. Luckily, this gig was not part of an extended tour, and Leithauser used his rested pipes to extraordinary effect, shifting effortlessly from rage (“The Rat”) to reflection (“Another One Goes By”) and hitting all the notes in between.
But the night was about fresh material of which 10 of the evenings 13 offerings were new.
So if you happen to be a producer working on the Walkmen's new album, do our misguided friends at Coachella a favor and upload the following songs to your Web site of choice: “Odd Kords,” “Calypso” and “Fandango.” The poor bastards have truly suffered enough without having to go through a whole summer not having heard these instant Walkmen classics.
As the crowd of Echo Park hipsters banged their roughed up shoes into the floor trying to cajole an encore, I could not help but grow reflective. A climate controlled venue. State of the art indoor plumbing. A 10-minute drive back to my house. One hell of a good show.And an admission fee that leaves enough money in your pocket for breakfast the next morning. Because in the end, isn't that what indie music is really all about?