DIY is alive and well. Last Friday night at Knowhere was a show to remember, as four rising bands each got to play their short respective sets in the basement owned by a few music buffs. It was purity and clarity. With the bands and the patrons conversing back and forth on a level playing field with each other as though there were no instruments between them, this small room was a safe space for both parties. I don’t mean literally safe, as bodies were being thrown throughout the pit over the course of the night—the principal of these being started by the frontman of the first band and partial owner of the house. The pinnacle of punk rock, the first band, Oxi, was actually playing their first show. It was clear these guys had no expectations for it—they knew it would be imperfect. They just wanted to play.
Oxi warmed up the crowd phenomenally. By the time Where’s Walden? came on, we were all feeling groovy. Jack, Nick, Nate, and Zach took the stage, and their set was precluded by some conversation between Jack, Zach, and the audience. Joking and lighthearted, this was immediately contrasted with their music. After their opener, a song called “May 6th,” Jack asked if we could turn the lights off. People turned on the flashlight on their phones so the musicians could see their instruments better—a makeshift spotlight. However, this still did not elevate the band among its supporters at all. The darkness forced us to focus on the music more, while continuing to make us feel a part of the action. With their music and our flashlights, it was a give-and-take relationship. It’s safe to say that as soon as Where’s Walden? came on, the community inside the basement became closer.
The band went on to play their next song, “May 7th.” From the first chord, it’s clear that it’s a love song. The lyrics are all about getting carried away, in over your head with someone. Nate’s fast-paced guitar picking gives the impression of running—how everything moves a mile a minute when you’re in love. The loss of logic and reason is payment for all the breathless moments. This song captures that feeling of getting ahead of yourself, but leaves you with a stillness, as one of the lines of the chorus asks, “Would you wake up next to me?”.
After their initial upbeat impression, the next song was a solid head-nodder. “Andy Warhol” has a soft intro of a solo guitar, that suddenly jumps the entire band in sync with each other. With a motif of three short beats followed by one long beat that emerges throughout the whole song, it illustrates hesitancy and confusion. This song is clearly written by someone who is at a crossroads. The guitar riff mimics regret, as it regresses from extremely high notes to very low ones. This song has a deep soul, and Walden performs it so. With Nick repeatedly hitting the top of the neck of his bass on the ceiling, and then dipping his head low to the ground, we could literally see the highs and lows in “Andy Warhol.”
The last song played was “Rockies.” The song builds on heartbreak, as Jack sings “She was my everything, I thought I was her everything.” This is a ballad. By the time the song reached the chorus, the audience was in a trance, as the band’s rhythm reflected that of a beating heart. Pum-pum.
Where’s Walden? took us on a journey that night. A perfect unity of emotion, we experienced the highs and lows of life. As they carry themselves and play with such ease, it is hard to believe that their music is the exact opposite of that—filled with anxiety, heartbreak, and an almost disbelief of their own happiness. However, these guys clearly don’t hold themselves on a pedestal. They write and perform songs that are relatable. They aren’t intimidating or contrived, but they are smart and serious about their music. Not to mention their show was a wall of sound—do not see them if you prefer background music. DO see them if you want a high-pitched guitar riff or some heavy percussion.