The Walkmen and Father John Misty make passionate music. Together, their music is gutsy, irreverent and sweet. As tourmates, their prodigious sound is a gear-churning blend of Joy Division portent and Morrissey swagger — all gift-wrapped in a tight amalgam. It’s emotional reverie at its finest.
On the footsteps of a stark Monday-night, MLK Holiday on Colfax, both bands dashed through transfixed sets built on prisms of spunk. Each band sounded moody and dark. For his part, Joshua Tillman of FJM was also quirky and funny during breaks. At one point between songs he even quipped, “Ya’ll got enough time to get your texting done?,” as the crowd interrupted his set with their faces aglow in a phone-texting fervor. Unfazed, Tillman pressed on with songs like “I’m Writing A Novel” and “Misty’s Nightmares 1 & 2” — showcasing mirth, mystery and songwriting chops. Tillman, formerly of indie-folk patrons Fleet Foxes, also shook his hips on stage like a lounge fly, seeming content and awash in frontman worship. Tillman’s vocals were enchanting too, and his band’s strident velocity was good medicine. Ending the set with “Hollywood Cemetery Forever Sings,” FJM dazzled with a weird phosphorescent buzz that diverged into shredded yarn and then reunited into a fine thread.
Taking the stage in a casual reproach minus any theatrics, the Walkmen dipped into a saltier grind behind a veteran catalog. “Angela Surf City” and “In The New Year” were triumphant reminders of a band that has little to prove but a lot to share. “The Rat,” built on a blistering backbeat, raged through the Ogden Theatre soundboard like a devilish whirlwind — all to the crowd’s rejoice. “Heaven” and “Heartbreaker,” with their exacting crescendos, ended the set with an urgent plea that bled clean like a good wound. If only all pain was this easy to bear.
Kris K. Coe is a freelance writer, Denver-native, and regular contributor to Reverb.
Kit Chalberg is a Denver photographer and a new contributor to Reverb.