Monday, August 17, 2009

It Came From Brooklyn: High Places And The Walkmen Played The Guggenheim - Pictures, Review

On Friday night, HAD stopped in at the Guggenheim for the first installment in their "It Came From Brooklyn" series. The series, which is part of the celebration of the museum's fiftieth anniversary, attempts to bring Manhattanites and solid dose of Brooklyn's always-expanding cultural scene. While we headed to the gig for the music, it was a unique event that managed to mix rock music with a poetry reading, a marching band, and stand up comedy. Needless to say, it was an interesting evening.

The Brooklyn Steppers Marching Band started off the evening, and gave a solid performance in classic marching-band style. It was fun to see the band juxtaposed against the Guggenheim's ramps, and the band were clearly having fun themselves. The music was upbeat and provided the perfect stimulus to get the evening going.

When High Places followed the Steppers, it was with music of a vastly different character. The Places' subtle brand of almost-ambient tunage is definitely one that we dig, and so we were curious to see how they would pull it off in a live environment - especially one as unique as The Guggenheum. Unfortunately, it wasn't as well suited as we would have liked.

The duo's set was unquestionably interesting, challenging, and diverse. But a combination of factors, ranging from the size of the space to muddy acoustics, left us feeling like we hadn't seen the band at their best. Make no mistake: the set definitely peaked our interest and had us giving their record a spin when we got home, it just seemed like the space wasn't ideal for what their show has to offer.

By stark contrast, The Walkmen fit the Guggenheim's rotunda like a glove. The band's already boomy, reverb laden sound was made more expansive by the large hall, and the crowd was rapt with attention for what was actually a pretty mellow set from the band.

Maybe it was the venue, maybe it was the type of event, or maybe it was just the feel of the evening. Whatever the reason, it was one of the more chilled out and atmospheric sets we've heard from The Walkmen in a long time. Much of the setlist was culled from the band's quieter material, and if one could classify any of the band's songs as "hits", they were all in absentia.

In many ways, that atmosphere made the set all that much more interesting, and really offered up a lot of what makes The Walkmen a relevant artistic force. Not only that, but the band was in top form and sounded fantastic. In particular, Hamilton Leithauser's voice was in top notch form, and sounded fantastic in the large room.

At the end of the night, we have to say we walked away pretty satisfied. While "It Came From Brooklyn" isn't exactly a cheap ticket, it also offers a whole lot more in terms of giving you a full evening, with multiple notable acts. What's more, it's in one of the finest spaces in the city, which, we must say, is also a really fun place to see a rock show.

It Came From Brooklyn Continues on September 25th with Julian Plenti headlining.

Many more pictures at the HAD Archive


ujj said...

This looks f-in incredible. I <3 NYC.