“You guys should be more quiet,” Hamilton Leithauser sarcastically told the silent audience at Johnny Brenda’s as they scrambled to pick their jaws up off the floor.
Leithauser had just belted out the last chorus of “Sick As a Dog,” in which the singer had crooned the words “I use the saaaame voice I alwaaaaays haaaaaaave” to an awestruck crowd of lucky bastards who managed to procure a ticket to one of the most highly coveted shows you’re ever going to see at JB’s. It was only the second song of the night (Leithauser opened the show with “You Ain’t That Young Kid,” another off of his album with Vampire Weekend’s Rostam Batmanglij entitled I Had a Dream That You Were Mine), and the patrons on the floor and in the balcony had already gotten their money’s worth. What could possibly come next?
What followed was a set list consisting entirely of songs from his album with Rostam, although unfortunately played sans-Rostam. Other songs in the set — “Alexandra,” “I Retired” and “11 O’Clock Friday Night” — came from his last solo album, Black Hours, released in 2014. But those songs fell right in line with the mood of the show, which was relaxing but exciting, calming and energetic, tranquilizing yet goosebumps-inducing. Leithauser capped off the first set with “Rough Going (I Won’t Let Up)” before coming back on stage with a can of Sly Fox Helles Golden Lager in hand to play “1959” for an encore. The guy certainly knows how to appeal to the Philadelphia audience.
Towards the end of the night, Leithauser talked about his appreciation for Philly and how he used to practice on 9th and Girard, only ten blocks down from Johnny Brenda’s. He talked about how Girard Avenue has changed so much — there’s even a Fette Sau on the corner of Girard and Frankford. “Aren’t they, like, the enemy?” Leithauser joked, referring to the BBQ joint, which has its roots in the Williamsburg neighborhood of Brooklyn; apparently, New Yorkers are aware of the inferiority complex Philadelphians sometimes have being stuck between their city and the nation’s capital. But if there’s any cultural aspect of Philadelphia that can rival and even beat New York, it’s our vibrant music scene, and Hamilton Leithauser is welcome back anytime.
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