The Showbox is perhaps the most
spacious venue Seattle has to offer. The layout is perfect for bar patrons and
young music fans alike to enjoy their favorite band without encumbrances or
blockades. Hell, even the bathrooms are nice for an indie venue.
It just so happens that I was able to take in just how spacious and nice The
Showbox is during Mazarin's set. When I walked in, I questioned whether I was
early, as the venue was not even a quarter full. Making my way to the bar to
grab a beer with my friend, I realized we were in the most populace area of
the venue. Further inspection noted that the other bar side was blacked-off. I
thought The Walkmen were far more popular than this, but it dawned on me that
it just so happened to be high school graduation weekend for most of the
Seattle area. I've encountered this phenomenon before, and while it may be a
downer to bands blowing through town, it makes the concert experience that
much more enjoyable for those of us not graduating from anything (unless you
count graduating from one beer to the next).
Philly's very own Mazarin were just taking the stage as we settled into the
bar area for our first drink. These guys have blown through town three times
in the past 7 months. The truly odd occurrence: I've been to every show
they've played but have missed out on them due to tardiness or show-hopping.
This time there was no avoiding Mazarin. Suffice it to say, after watching
them play to 100 people like they were 100,000 people, I'm sad that I've
missed them. Their set was a nice counterbalance to what the evening had in
store. Mazarin's greatest strength is taking catchy indie rock suitable for
the recording studio and making it as raw as possible in the live setting.
There's a crunch and a fervor many indie clichés can never deliver in a live
setting. It's one trick to make an album catchy; it's another to make a
concert even catchier.
A few beers and 20 minutes later, The Walkmen came out to a crowd that had
doubled (though that's not saying much). I fully expected a dud from the band,
considering the low turnout. What I got was one hell of a rock show. Nothing
was held back. Hamilton Leithauser belted out each and every song as if he was
a punch-drunk lounge singer expecting his big break. The new songs were
passionate and intense, something that does not translate throughout A
Hundred Miles Off. "Good for You's Good for Me" and "Emma, Get Me a Lemon"
transformed live, turning lifeless recordings into monumental anthems of piss
and vinegar. Old favorites such as "Wake Up" and "Little House of Savages" had
a crunchier, angrier tone that made them seem more sincere than ever. The real
surprise of the evening came when the band unveiled a new song and claimed it
was from an upcoming fall album (if it's from Pussycats I do not know)
The track itself had the same, south of the border blasé that makes
What did we learn from this? Don't miss Mazarin next time they come through
town, take note that The Walkmen are turning into an indie mariachi band (and
I like it), and consider that not fighting for your plot of floor during a
show makes for a more pleasurable concert.