It’s not often that a band I want to see comes to Istanbul. Most concerts in Istanbul tend to be of the stadium tour variety, which for me are not nearly as enjoyable as seeing a smaller band play a more intimate venue. And it’s not that I don’t enjoy the best of the 80s, but if I’m shelling out 50 TL for a concert, I want to see something a little more contemporary.
When I found out The Walkmen and Twin Shadow were playing a show at Babylon in Beyoğlu, it felt a little like striking gold.
It was my first time at Babylon and I was impressed with the space. Great sound quality and obligatory exposed brick/air ducts makes for an enjoyable atmosphere. Also it was clean, which is always a pleasant surprise for mid-level music venues.
Twin Shadow opened. They seem to really have their finger on that coked-out (new) new wave sound that seems to be all the rage in Brooklyn right now, complete with the androgenized aesthetic. “Slow” was definitely their standout track. I thoroughly enjoyed their set.
The Walkmen are one of those wonderfully rare bands that are better live than on their albums. They had the stage presence of a bi-weekly cover band at a local dive, not in a lackluster way but in the sense they seemed so incredibly comfortable on the stage, but as front man Hamilton Leithauser blurted out after the first song:
“It’s our first time here, and we love the damn place!”
It’s certainly Leithauser’s dynamic vocals and stage presence that command your attention. The intensity and tone seem somewhat mis-matched with Leithauser’s unassuming, all-American demeanor, but when he grips the mic in full power stance- it’s pure rock and roll.
As a fairly recent fan, I was glad to hear a lot of material off their latest album, Lisbon. Singles “Angela Surf City” and “Woe is Me” both got the crowd moving (several Turkish fans were using some traditional Turkish dance moves). But my favorite track of the evening ended up being “The Rat”, an older single off of Bows + Arrows that I heard for the first time. The hook, repeated over and over again, invites the listener into the singer’s isolation and despondency.
“When I used to go out, I would know everyone I saw. Now I go out alone, if I go out at all”
In all, it was a great night of American Indie Rock & Roll.
(photos taken with my non-ironic camera phone. sorry for the poor quality- I lost my camera in Romania).