A show review of the Wakmen/Lower Dens from JP at the famouse Cat's Cradle while traveling in North Carolina.
A trip to North Carolina usually brings a sense of winter relief with temperatures in the mid 50s with lows in the 40's. An early 2011 spring for someone from the Northeast. This however was not the case for this former Leo this past week nor the traveling Lower Dens supporting The Walkmen on a short tour at the University of North Carolina infamous Cat's Cradle this past Wednesday night.
Cat's Cradle is actually located very close to the smaller Local 506 which I happened to visit back in September. From the front it takes on the appearance of an older skating ring and any driver passing by wouldn't have any idea that it was a music venue. On entering I was given the above 21 hand stamp, with an unwanted three days of scouring, and was greeted with a Mr. Smalls introduction with the stage on my right hand side adjacent to the entrance. Adventuring towards the back there were seats along the wall, all occupied by the way, with platforms next to the soundbooth. The bar was located against the back wall facing the stage and that seemed to be the meeting place for all the attendees or should I say UNC students drinking PBR. I watched the Pitt basketball team beat up on Georgetown then went to check out the Lower Dens.
I had the great fortune of graciously being surprised by the Lower Den's great sound when they opened for Bear in Heaven this past fall at Brillobox. Jana Hunter wearing a goose sweater of all things and band came out to "Blue and Silver" which received no applause at all. It was until after the intricate guitar picking of "A Dog's Dick" that the applause came. Bouncing around their acclaimed Twin-Hand Movement they came to their new single "Batman" which started to energize the crowd, not to mention their drummer who had a thank you look on his face. 40 minutes later they finished with their 2nd rocking song of the evening "Holy Water". After the performance I walked over the merchandise stand to pick up the "Batman" 7 inch and get a better spot for The Walkmen. Having the stage right near the entrance usually isn't a big deal if capacity is managed appropriately. I had read that the capacity was roughly 500, but on this however it was well above that number.
The Walkmen had just been in Pittsburgh as well and to be honest skipped out on their set after Japandroids. I had seen them once opening for Spoon and wasn't too impressed then. On their first song, which I didn't recognize, it was more of the same. It wasn't until "Angelina Surf City" when I started to reconsider my verdict. With veins pumping from his neck Hamilton Leithauser belted the chorus to the overcrowded venue while the only other enthusiastic member, drummer Matt Barrick, banged away. My biggest problem with The Walkmen is that their sound isn't as diversified as one would think this far into their career and they usually just go through the motions on stage. All this being said they did play one of my more favorite songs of the 21st century, "The Rat", although most of the songs were from their latest Lisbon, it did include "Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone" and "In the New Year."