Bumbershoot The Walkmen vs Estelle
posted by August 31 at 11:48 AMon
This was the one head-to-header yesterday that I really struggled with ahead of time. On the one hand, Estelle, an up and coming R&B singer with a Kanye-dusted summer hit, “American Boy.” On the other, the Walkmen, a studiously trad East Coast rock band with one amazing anthem, “The Rat,” now several years behind them. Turns out I watched a little of both and wasn’t too impressed by either.
The Walkmen by Corey Bayless
The Walkmen are a perfectly fine rock band—not “fine” like jewelry or china, but “fine” like “whatever.” They played the excellent ballad “In the New Year” from their latest, You & Me, and it sounded great, instruments swaying and serenading as if at some NYC/Old World sidewalk cafe, singer Hamilton Leithauser’s voice strained and striking the notes just so. Leithauser, it should be noted, has a name that makes him sound like some minor heir, and from afar he has kind of a James Spader from Pretty in Pink look (if you wanted to be a dick, you might imagine him going boating with the Vampire Weekend kids). Damn, was the Broad Street Lawn crowded, though—standing room only, right up to the paved walkway, and with lines in the beer garden so long you’d expect Eugene Mirman to be doing stand up at the end of them. The crowd was enough to keep me from waiting around for “the Rat,” so if anyone with more fortitude than I was there, did they play it?
Estelle by Kelly O
The Fisher Pavillion’s rooftop beer garden was far more pleasant, although from up there Estelle didn’t seem too remarkable, even with a full band and three backup singer/dancers. Her voice is clearly competent, as was her band, and she’s certainly young, pretty, and stylish enough for Youtube (insert tired rant re: MTV/playing music videos here), but I can’t help but agree with a fellow beer gardener who said she should just “bring Kanye West out” already.