Due to a mild pain in the ass regarding our photographer’s spot on the guest list, a broken ATM and a bit of finagling, we probably missed about half of Lower Dens’ set opening for The Walkmen at Exit/In on Saturday night. (We also missed our chance to fawn all over Walkmen frontman Hamilton Liethauser when we saw him out back, as we were preoccupied with getting all our peoples into the show … but we probably would have just embarrassed ourselves anyhow.)
What we did see of Baltimore four-piece Lower Dens, however, we enjoyed pretty thoroughly: introspective, droney shoegaze with lush guitar tones and understated vocal melodies from frontwoman and prolific singer-songwriter Jana Hunter. Hunter’s looking just the slightest bit like Lori Petty (circa Tank Girl) these days, but vocally, her rich alto reminded us a bit more of fellow Baltimorean and Beach House frontwoman Victoria LeGrand — and trust, that’s a compliment coming from us.
By the time The Walkmen took the stage, the Exit/In was at full capacity, with a sizable chunk of the crowd clearly comprised of thirtysomething dudes still recovering from the previous night’s GBV blowout at The Cannery Ballroom. Be that as it may, everyone’s hangovers, worries and inhibitions vanished when Leithauser hit those impossibly high notes on “Angela Surf City” and “In the New Year” — it really is “gonna be a good year,” isn’t it, Hamilton??
Anyway, any show from The Walkmen is yet another opportunity to geek out on guitarist Paul Maroon’s singular, surfy tone and drummer Matt Barrick’s otherworldly stamina. You know. Indie-rock dork shit. (Seriously though, how is it that Barrick can look like he’s about to totally fly off the handle at any given moment, yet still nail every part with complete control? Ridiculous.) Oh, PSA: The men’s restroom at Exit/In has migrated a bit, so try not to look like an idiot by knocking on the locked door of the former men’s restroom, which now sports an “Employees Only” sign — a sign that we failed to notice.
So it was a particularly good show (even for The Walkmen) with a particularly outstanding set list (they played “138th Street” … They never play that!), rendering us — in case you hadn’t noticed — a bit more earnest than usual. Even so, when a girl at the bar congratulated us on our set — clearly mistaking The Spin for Lower Dens’ mustachioed bassist — we went with it and thanked her, though we stopped just short of asking if she wanted to buy us a drink. Oh, and The Walkmen closed with “We’ve Been Had." Perfect set.