The Walkmen, Father John Misty team up to rock The Fillmore

The-WalkmenPhotos by Sam Heller // Written by Kevin Quandt //

The Walkmen & Father John Misty //
The Fillmore – San Francisco
January 24th, 2013 //

2012 marked successful years for both Father John Misty and The Walkmen, as one sprouted to life and another continued on their steady ascent. However the pairing of these two groups over a few dates came as a bit of a surprise for some West Coast fans. Luckily, you knew you were guaranteed an amazing night of music at The Fillmore with this co-bill.



The growth and popularity of Father John Misty is little surprise to this writer as Fear Fun was easily one of the best albums of the 2012. Naturally, Josh Tillman and band opened with its leading track, “Fun Times in Babylon.” From there they played a bevy of stellar tracks from their banner debut album highlighted by “Nancy From Now On” and “Only Son of a Ladiesman”. Tillman’s demeanor on stage is so casual and effortless; full of banter, dance moves and general merriment. One track that has become a live highlight over the past year is “This is Sally Hatchet”, full of slow build till Tillman and band explode into a frenzied noise before crashing back to Earth.


The element of storytelling these tracks have taken on is part of the wonder that has attracted fans to this band. It’s even more bizarre when you find out Tillman served as the drummer in Fleet Foxes over the past many years. “Everyman Needs a Companion” brought the pace down for a few before capping the set with spotlight track “Hollywood Forever Cemetery Sings”. It’s songs like these that make so many thrilled at what this freshman act are capable of in the future, as Tillman has proven to be an incredibly dynamic songwriter and performer.


The Walkmen took headlining privileges this night, delivering a career-spanning set to the sold-out crowd. “On the Water”, off of You and Me, was the set opener, which is rarely featured in the No. 1 spot. The Walkmen had a busy year with the release of Heaven coupled with relentless touring and festival appearances. Hamilton Leithauser’s style of singing is both impressive and powerful, which lends his voice to be strained on certain nights. But tonight he sounded rested and fresh.


From there the all original 5-piece band launched into some crowd favorites like “The Rat” and “In the New Year,” creating a sing along for the capacity crowd. “Woe is Me” changed the pace and tempo of the show to a more light, calypso-esque tone with this standout track from Lisbon. Songs like this show the true variety of sounds and tempos this band has mastered over their 11 year history. One aspect of The Walkmen that is truly astounding is the maturity they have garnered and displayed through these years, growing from youthful angst to aged wisdom in a genuine manner.

“Line by Line” was once a quiet, yet powerful, show opener, while Hamilton and Paul Maroon’s duo rendition has grown to the full band for this contemplative song. It is still a tender bit to an emotionally charged act. The Walkmen have the reputation of using vintage instruments to compose their unique sound, whether it be stand-up pianos older than the members themselves or well used guitars. “Blue as Your Blood” features the latter instrument, giving the song an almost haunting quality while Hamilton croons, “The sky above is blue as your blood.” The set continued on with more selections from Lisbon.


The raucous bop of “Angela Surf City” led into the introduction of tonight’s horn section, provided by San Francisco’s own Magik*Magik Orchestra. The expanded collective played “Stranded” in beautiful form, beckoning a sound one might hear walking the streets of the Portuguese capital city for which this album is titled. Once this Lisbon suite had been rounded out, the band led into a highlight track from their seminal early album, Bows and Arrows. “138th Street” was a pleasant surprise, keeping things subdued and a bit contemplative while Leithauser eloquently crawled through the angst ridden lyrics, even painting a picture of some desolate Manhattan evening.


The band ended their set with a pair of selections off their latest release. “We Can’t Be Beat” and “Heaven” displayed more of the band’s maturity, both lyrically and musically. The encore brought the return of the horn section for the Sun Studios inspired track “Louisiana,” peaking with a truly revelrous section of horns and stand-up piano flourishes. An old classic would be the last song played on this Thursday night. “We’ve Been Had” is the quintessential early career Walkmen track featuring their own unique jangly instrumentation, capped with the powerful vocals of Hamilton coupled with the every-man life-lesson lyrics.

Pairing an exciting fresh act like Father John Misty with the perpetually consistent warriors like The Walkmen is a brilliant plan, hopefully introducing fans to unknown acts. We can only look forward to the directions both of them take in 2013, likely collecting devotees and winning accolades with songwriting and performing equally.





  1. Bad ass photos


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