Concert Review: The Walkmen, Here We Go Magic, The Dig @ Mid East Downstairs (9/19/09)

Ham!

Bands: The Walkmen, Here We Go Magic, The Dig
Venue: Middle East Downstairs, Cambridge, MA
Date: Saturday, September 19, 2009

The Dig
Ben: The Dig was really good. They have great bass work. The bassist/singer looks like John Mayer but dresses and sings like the guy from Vampire Weekend [Ezra Koenig]. The guitarist/singer’s songs kind of remind me of early Radiohead. The Dig does unconventional rhythm very well. I’m getting technical here but they use weird time signatures and timing changes, and sometimes it’s hard to tell where the “center of gravity” is. But it’s a really nice change from your standard timing in music. It’s also a technique that’s *very* hard to pull off. With their stuff it’s often much harder to locate the center of gravity. That’s what really stood out about them for me.  Really great, inventive rhythms.

Glen: The Dig were just as awesome Night Two as Night One and in the end probably slightly better. They changed up their set-list trivially. Both nights the song I loved most was “Penitentiary.” It has all the makings of a mainstream power pop number, yet it still maintains a very distinctive alt-country sound. The bassist/singer’s voice is very distinctive. I think the guitarist/singer’s songs were more experimental, less hard rock. An example of the heavier stuff was the song “Just Wanna Talk To You,” bringing back memories of live Louis XIV but more explosive and…better! The first night they ended with that…the second night it was second-to-last.

Chris: Pretty damn loud and noisy, so of course I liked it. They rocked out and were really passionate about their music.

Here We Go Magic
Ben: Here We Go Magic was great especially considering the drummer situation. It was the first time I heard “Tunnelvision” with electric instruments and I liked the noisy turn it took towards the end. Luke’s vocals were great.

Glen: Go Chad! Once again, I want to recognize him for truly being instrumental to HWGM’s Night Two set. Night One was ambient…Night Two still maintained ambiance, but all songs especially “Tunnelvision” and “Fangela” sounded far greater with Chad. It takes a lot for an experimental folk band like HWGM to perform a well-executed set; each band member was up to task and enthusiastic.

Chris: I liked it, but not as much as the first band. I commend Chad, the fill-in drummer for having the chops to play on par with the band. Also the bass guitarist and the pianist were sexy!

The Walkmen
Ben: The Walkmen are a tight group with a good mix of songs. Good mix of alt-country, folk, and noisier rock. Really great singer.

Glen: Showcasing quite a bit of new material (according to the band, some old songs they refuse to play), The Walkmen proved that they didn’t need to delve too deep into their repertoire to be awesome. Both nights were astonishing (mind-blowing), but Night Two took the cake! Night Two was quite similar to Night One in a lot of ways; a brass section was featured notably on “Canadian Girl,” “Louisiana,” and “Red Moon,” Ham’s veins were popping out of his neck, etc, etc. Both nights featured the best of the Walkmen (at least according to your average fan): “In the New Year” and “The Rat.” BUT only on Night Two did The Walkmen play “Thinking Of A Dream” (incredible audience reception), “Donde Esta La Playa,” and Bows and Arrows classic “138th Street.” The Walkmen are a class act and no less than one of the best active bands in today’s post-punk revival era.

Chris: They put on a fantastic show! I loved “Louisiana,” especially the horn section. My favorite song was “In the New Year.” Hamilton clearly has a distinctive voice.

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