January 22, 2012
Thank you, Canada.
It was November and I’d completely forgotten about this concert when a Canadian co-worker pointed to The Walkmen poster above my desk and asked if I were going. The shows sold out less than a week after that conversation.
I’d planned to meet up with that same co-worker and his friends at the show but we never managed to cross paths. Instead, I stood in silence next to what the corner of my eye perceived to be a nice-looking man, also alone at the show. Thirty minutes passed before a waitress showed up and he gestured my way during his order saying, “and whatever she’d like.” *Swoon* In all the years I’ve been traveling solo to concerts, I’ve secretly hoped for a man to offer me a drink. Okay, that’s not entirely true. I’d hoped for a handsome man to offer me a drink. And he was indeed handsome. I passed on the drink out of consideration for the full drink already in my hand and my bladder that was already going to struggle to survive the whole show. (Getting to the bathrooms & back to your spot in this venue, especially at a sold out show, is a nightmare.)
Anyway, I struck up conversation after a long pause in the wake of the waitresses departure. He was in town from Calgary and joked that I probably had no idea where that was. (I knew but only because a character on the hit Canadian drama “Heartland”, my guilty pleasure, works in Calgary. I didn’t share this qualifier with him.) He’d also been at the show the night before and mentioned they’d barely played any songs from Bows+Arrows, which happens to be my favorite album. I was counting on a different setlist for tonight. While we waited on the show, we talked about our jobs a bit. His job often lands him in northern US states like Montana & Wyoming. I mentioned I’d just been there in September and it turns out, he was too. We’d both been in Whitefish, MT and Glacier within a few days of each other. He shares my love of Wyoming and knew of Beartooth Highway. Amazing.
After two almost-fights happened right in front of us, I told him, “When I see stuff like that, it makes me think I’m getting too old for this.” He boldly asked, “So how old are you?” followed by how close I was to 30 hah. Turns out he had just turned 30 in November. He didn’t feel any different because of it. I asked. We talked a bit about SF. He mentioned, “So this is like your winter? 60s?”. “Actually,” I clarified, “it’s been in the 50s and raining.” Poor San Franciscans. It was -15 F when he departed Calgary. I tried to hide my disappointment when he said his favorite spots had been Union Square and Fisherman’s Wharf. We all know I’m terrible at hiding my feelings, though, so he quickly added, “I know they’re probably really touristy.”
He leaned a little “financial district” in his fitted polo clearly showing a chiseled chest but he was nice. I even noticed that he sort of angled his 6’3+ stature in front of me when violence picked up in front of us. It made me feel like a lady ;) I half-regret not asking him to grab a drink after the show instead of the semi-awkward “have a nice life” goodbye. But I wanted to leave the evening on a high note and no need to pursue a foreigner, even if he did share my views on smoking pot at concerts and loved Wyoming.
So yes, thank you, Canada, for coming through on so many levels.
Run-in’s with fate aside, The Walkmen did not disappoint on their 10th Anniversary show. They opened with 3 songs from Bows+Arrows. I was in heaven. I was about 6 rows back with a perfect view and aside from some annoying crowd things, I couldn’t have asked for a better concert. Within the first few songs, the whole row in front of me literally slid out. One guy was dragging another guy. I’m not totally sure what happened, but the singer moved to that side of the stage and said, “We must have a birthday in the audience….everybody mellow out, it’s okay. Let him stay. *pause* Oh fine, take him out of here!” After the song ended, he added, “Rue the Day [song] seemed to ruffle a few feathers.” We all laughed because we’re all friends like that.
I never let myself listen to a band’s music on the day of a concert. I’d had the lyrics to “The Rat” stuck in my head all day, so it felt sooo good to have that craving filled by the second song of the show. They played every single one of my favorite songs. I only wish everyone else would just lip sync like me. None of us want to hear your off-key version, friends. Oh well.
I’ve wanted to see The Walkmen in a proper venue for so many years but they never came to Indiana. It was worth the wait. I was so happy.
There was a horn quartet for a quarter of the show. I love brass. Vocals were dead-on. The crowd was mostly quiet during quiet songs. They played 4 new songs which gave me promise for the next album. Other highlights were “We’ve Been Had”, closing my eyes and swaying to “Hang on, Siobhan”, Leithauser [lead singer] bent over backwards wailing during “On the Water”, and having a real Canadian nudge me and yell the name of the song, “Canadian Girl!”. Near the end, they took requests for 3-4 songs, before starting to wrap up the night. The second-to-last song was an epic rendition of “Thinking of a Dream I Had”, a song I have screamed along to many a times in my car. It’s just great to be part of a celebratory show. Leithauser told us, “We’re so happy to be spending our birthday at this place. We love it here and knew it’s where we wanted to celebrate. Hell, I’m happy to spending it with this band. It’s been a great 10 years.” It was pretty adorable. It’s nice to see a band stay together so long and still look like they’re having a great time. The ballerina photo behind the stage was taken by one of the dad of one of the band members at Bimbo’s [a great venue in SF] about 40 years ago. That was a righteous touch.
Setlist coming soon… setlist.fm