Hamilton Leithauser of The Walkmen and Rostam Batmanglij, formerly of Vampire Weekend, performed the second of two sold-out shows at DTLA’s Teragram Ballroom on Tuesday night for an eager and excited crowd. Fans of both musicians’ previous work — people could be heard discussing the last time they saw The Walkmen, who went on an indefinite hiatus in 2013 — also were excited to hear Leithauser and Batmanglij’s latest, I Had a Dream That You Were Mine, which landed at No. 1 on Billboard’s Heatseekers Albums chart.
Leithauser and Batmanglij previously worked together on the former’s 2014 solo album, Black Hours, and the fruitful partnership has continued, leading to the current musical duo, simply named Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam. Much of I Had a Dream is in the same vein as Black Hours, songs of which also were performed, including “I Retired,” which Leithauser wrote with Batmanglij, and “11 O’Clock Friday Nights,” written with The Walkmen’s Paul Maroon.
Although this tour originally was billed as a solo one, to the delight of the audience, Rostam was onstage Tuesday night. “This is my friend Rostam,” Leithauser said. “We’re going to do our Allman Brothers impression here.” The two then strummed the guitar intro to “When the Truth Is …” — one of the highlights of I Had a Dream with its dreamy doo-wop vibe.
When introducing Black Hours‘ “Alexandra,” Leithauser recalled its songwriting process: “[We were] at [Rostam’s] old apartment in New York, where we first met and started working on music. And I was a new dad, so I forgot to get a babysitter. I ended up bringing the baby with me to work. But I also had forgotten to put a diaper on her. And he lived in this beautiful apartment with — were those concrete floors?” Rostam smiled from the piano and quipped, “They were gray.” Leithauser continued: “I tell you one thing: They did not leak any water. Because she pissed all over the floor. I remember Rostam in the other room working, and I was using all his paper towels cleaning up this big puddle of piss.” Fans applauded and laughed loudly, as Leithauser concluded, “So that’s what I remember about writing this song.”
The night was filled with good-humored banter between the musicians and the audience. At one point, as the band members retuned their instruments and the venue became quiet, Leithauser said, “I’m still ironing out this part of the show,” to which audience members then hooted and hollered to fill the silence. “That helps. Thank you,” he replied.
In another instance, when introducing “The Bride’s Dad,” a fan cried out, “It’s so sad!” To which Leithauser responded: “It’s not sad. The song’s not sad. The true story is sad.” The song itself, as told by Leithauser, “is about a friend of mine’s wedding told by the father of the bride. The bride’s dad. A good man … Maybe not a good man. But a lovable man.”
Leithauser and Rostam ended the night with “1959,” which featured the Deradoorian sisters, Angel (formerly of Dirty Projectors) and Arlene. “They also sing Hurt and Black Sabbath covers on request,” Leithauser joked. (In a bit of indie-music trivia, Angel, who also provided vocals for the album’s version of “1959,” previously worked with Batmanglij on Discovery, his project with Ra Ra Riot‘s Wes Miles.) It was a fitting conclusion to the night, as “1959” is the closer for I Had a Dream. Angel’s vocals hauntingly filled the room as she sang the last few lines: “Don’t trust the moonbeams. Moonbeams are off the record. Don’t count your heartbeats. Your heart won’t beat forever.” Leithauser stood off to the side of the stage, seemingly contemplating the lyrics’ message on the passage of time. For both Leithauser and Batmanglij, as their creative processes and music projects continue to evolve and change, it was clear that their fans will be right there with them.
You Ain’t That Young Kid
Sick as a Dog
When the Truth Is …
The Morning Stars
In a Black Out
A 1000 Times
11 O’Clock Friday Nights
The Bride’s Dad
Rough Going (I Won’t Let Up)