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Irishpalooza welcomes The Walkmen and Ambulance LTD

Bob Costa | Friday, April 22, 2005

Since the late 1970s, “Saturday Night Live” has been considered the premier television show on which an up-and coming-artist can appear. But, if you ask many Notre Dame students, the real place to see hot, but still relatively anonymous, rock bands is on Fox’s “The O.C.,” which broadcasts every Thursday. From Death Cab for Cutie to Modest Mouse to The Killers, “The O.C.” creator Josh Schwartz has been instrumental in building the momentum behind the recent indie rock resurgence through his television show.”One of the trendiest, hippest, edgiest bands I have seen on [“The O.C.”] is The Walkmen,” said freshman Phil Drendall, an avid watcher of “The O.C.” “As a fan of the show, I’ve enjoyed seeing great bands, kind of out of the mainstream, get some props on TV.”The Walkmen, who recently released their second album “Bows and Arrows,” will be playing at Legends tomorrow evening with co-headliners Ambulance LTD and Michael Tolcher. The show starts at 9 p.m.Hamilton Leithauser, the lead vocalist and guitarist for The Walkmen, spoke with The Observer in a phone interview earlier this week. For him, being on “The O.C.” was almost surreal.”It was really weird because lots of people were in this room with us, a bunch of extras, and all acting like they were huge fans whenever director said ‘action,'” Leithauser said. “It was just a completely different world, and we were in the middle of a long tour, but hey, it paid really well and was lots of fun.”Originally all from Washington, D.C., the five members of The Walkmen moved to New York City around 1998, as they all headed to different universities in the city. Interestingly, the entire band attended high school at St. Alban’s School for Boys in Washington, D.C., one of the nation’s most elite private institutions and home to alumni like former Vice President Al Gore, Senator Even Bayh, and Brit Hume. Moving to New York was both a breath of fresh air for the band and an opportunity to explore New York’s diverse rock scene.The Walkmen took it upon themselves to make their own music, actually building a record studio in Harlem that they could use exclusively or rent out. Dubbed Marcata Recording, the studio is the place the band recorded its new album “Bows and Arrows” and its debut 2002 effort “Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone.””When we did the first record, it was when we were just beginning to own Marcata studios since it was built right when the band was started,” Leithauser said. “We didn’t really know what we were doing and laid down some basic tracks. We hadn’t even played live at all.” Still, “Everyone Who Pretended to Like Me Is Gone” featured tracks that were both moody and introspective with a sort of jaded edge in their cackling anthems. Songs such as “Wake Up,” “We’ve Been Had,” and “Rue the Day” are full melodies bridged with angular riffs and soaring vocals.The new album, “Bows and Arrows,” was made after the band had played a lot of live shows, gained greater stage chemistry, and generally had more unity.”Most of the songs were done on first take in the studio, and the record was completed in a short amount of time,” said Leithauser.Ambulance LTD, another band playing at Irishpalooza, is also from New York City and recently released its self-titled debut album. Featuring music that is a bit more pop and atmospheric than The Walkmen, Ambulance LTD is still right on the forefront of New York’s resurgent music scene. If you enjoy Franz Ferdinand or The Kinks, you should definitely check out Ambulance LTD this Saturday.Michael Tolcher, a prolific singer/songwriter with a dynamic band, will also being playing at Irishpalooza. For fans of Jack Johnson, Peter Gabriel, or Tracy Chapman, Tolcher is the guy most likely to win you over with his acoustic world-beat meats funk rock.According to Student Union Board Manager Jimmy Flaherty, whose organization is sponsoring Irishpalooza at Legends, the three-band festival will be both unprecedented and wide-ranging.”[Irishpalooza] is a full-blown free concert with three top up and coming nationally touring artists, all in Legends,” Flaherty said. “Legends will be set-up using a backfield, which will allow students outside enjoying free food to watch the show live on large video and plasma screens.”Flaherty likened the set-up of Irishpalooza to that of the House of Blues in Chicago, where not everyone is in direct sight line of the stage, but will be able to hear live music and watch via television. The inside club will be utilized to fulfill maximum capacity of 629 people and the “backfield” will hold an additional 920 people, making total capacity 1,549. The restaurant at Legends can hold 200 more. With two large tents in back of Legends, the Irishpalooza set-up will be bigger than anything Legends has seen this year.