It’s the Walkmen.
The show opened with Father John Misty, Josh Tillman’s moniker, minutes after we showed up. I was surprised to hear Tillman’s voice creeping into the Fillmore’s first floor men’s restroom, singing ‘I’m Writing a Novel,’ a sarcastic tune about Canadian shamans, West Hollywood, and originality. I was under the impression that Father John Misty would be playing second, after the Walkmen, but as it turns out, the Walkmen are an older, better established, and more well known band.
The Fillmore floor was busy, but not so jam-packed that I couldn’t find space right against the stage, where Tillman, a former drummer in Fleet Foxes, played most of his new album, Fear Fun. Early in the show, a girl, yelled for Tillman to “take it off” and Tillman started to joke around a bit, to self-deprecate. “You should ask more of me,” he said, “I’m glad you’re clapping, but we’re really not that great. You should say things like take it off.”
Tillman was wearing a button-down shirt, a beard, and long hair. He played guitar for a few songs, but mostly just danced around stage, smirked, and shook his hips. At one point Tillman jumped over the amp that was right next to my head.
Father John Misty closed his set with ‘Hollywood Cemetery Forever Sings,’ and then Tillman and his band shuffled off to a box, stage right, to watch the Walkmen and drink by themselves.
It was when the Walkmen came on that I realized that the rest of the audience was noticeably older, very much a 30s crowd, perhaps because it was a Thursday night and the same show was playing again Friday night, but I suspect it was because I had come to see an opener for an older band with a group of people that was there to see, perhaps exclusively, the older band.
The show just had a different feel to it than I was expecting, it seemed most people were there on dates. No one was really rocking out–– I imagine everyone there had jobs to be at the next morning, unlike myself and my friends. We’re dumb college kids.
The Walkmen were older too: they all wore wedding rings. Frontman Hamilton Leithauser bought a glass of white wine on stage. The bassist, wearing a navy blue cardigan, looked like a stay-at-home dad. Still, the Walkmen sounded great, hammering and echoing through the first half of their set, where they played most of their better known songs, ‘The Rat,’ ‘Heaven,’ and lots of their newer music. Later, there was a small brass band that played with the Walkmen for a handful of their songs–– Leithauser said something about finding them all on Craigslist. By the encore, the Walkmen were playing music from their first albums. The band and the audience both were tangibly nostalgic.
After it was all over, I went next door to Holy Dog for a beer and some food with my friends. I stepped outside for a moment. Down the block, a group of men were doing their best to find a taxi in the middle of Geary Street. It was Walkmen, presumably on their phones with their wives and children, looking forward to a good night’s sleep, and waiting, patiently for a cab.
My order was ready inside. I yelled “you guys rocked tonight,” or something to that effect. Leithauser turned, smiled and waved. A cab pulled up, the Walkmen got in.
They did rock. And right before the encore, Leithauser chugged that glass of white wine.