Hamilton Leithauser

What do backup dancers do? Backup dancers make the frontperson look good. They spice things up, they inject energy, they may display incredible talents, but it’s all done in the service of the star. In the video above, Hamilton Leithauser is the star — he takes the stage with a group of gals behind him, someone offstage tosses him the microphone, and off he goes. Lookin’ good. The video goes even further than that, because the first half has Leithauser hanging out in the dressing room before the dancers have even had a chance to slip on their sparkly outfits. Lookin’ meta good!

Could some of this frontman fourth wall breaking have to do with Leithauser’s situation vis-a-vis The Walkmen? With striking out on his own? Is some existential fat being chewed here? Maybe. But there’s another level I just love, and that level is Rostam Batmanglij.

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Tom Tom Founders Festival

If you would have told me in September of last year that central Virginia would see the establishment of three brand new music festivals in 9 months, I would have said, “That’s just cray.” But you would have been right! In the time it takes to make a human child, RVA Magazine has hosted RVA Music Fest (my coverage here and here), Style Weekly has put on the Shadrock Music Festival (Cheats Movement’s coverage here), and now — and I really do mean now, as it’s already started — we have Charlottesville’s Tom Tom Founders Festival, a month-long, SXSW-style music, arts and innovation conference that culminates in two amazing days of music this weekend. More than 50 bands will be performing on Friday, May 11 and Saturday, May 12, and the lineup includes a wonderful mix of heavy-hitting national acts (Those Darlins, Futurebirds, Josh Ritter and J Roddy Walston & the Business to name a few) and VA-based artists that promise to showcase the amazing pool of talent found in the area (Dead Fame, Eternal Summers, The Hill & Wood and No BS! Brass Band among them). Have a look at the full list of performers and their set times here. Though several jump out as must-sees, two in particular have me worked up into an anticipatory tizzy, the first of which is Nelly Kate.

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The Walkmen


Pop quiz: What caused the Fleet Foxes to have a Twitter conniption (Twitniption?) to the tune of “Been such gigantic fans of theirs since their first album” and “Its gonna be SO FUCKING AWESOME!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!”? If you guessed, “Finding out that they’d be sharing the bill with the Walkmen for a pair of shows in September,” you’re correct! And maybe a mind reader! You should find a game show to scam. Coincidentally, just 5 days before this laudatory lather was posted, my bandmate 4eva Doug urged me to give the Walkmen a long hard listen, saying that they’d climbed into the upper reaches of his list of favorite artists. He also shared that they were a band that critics and other bands have been wild about for some time, and the Fleet Foxy tweets above certainly back that up. Doug and I decided their most recent record, Lisbon, would be a suitable place for me to start, and after several listens, I’m totally sold. Lisbon is a beautiful record with some absolutely gorgeous sparse arrangements. I don’t know if I’ve ever heard just a voice and electric guitar sound so amazing together in all my life. It’s not all quiet stuff though – energetic songs like “Angela Surf City” balance the album out nicely. Give a listen below, and if you dig it, buy Lisbon on iTunes here. And remember, if one of your favorite bands is freaking out about another band, it’s probably worth listening to them. The other band, I mean. I mean … you listen to your favorite band’s advice, but then you listen to the other band’s music. You get what I’m saying, right? Of course you do, you read minder, you.