Did The Walkmen Break Up?

The Walkmen
The Walkmen

Since the year 2000, The Walkmen – a Velvet Underground-inspired quintet of Philadelphia and New York players – has made smart, incendiary garage rock with seven albums to show for its effort. In early December (12/4/13), at Philadelphia’s Union Transfer, The Walkmen played as part of a benefit for this city’s Rail Park. Right before that show, a post on The Walkmen Facebook page announced, “We’re not going to play shows for a long time." Was that Union Transfer show The Walkmen's last gig? Did The Walkmen break up?

Not too long ago, during a conversation I had with The Walkmen’s bassist and organist Peter Bauer, he mentioned that he had been living in East Mount Airy for the last several years, and is currently recording and mastering a solo album with local producer Quentin Stoltzfus in Port Richmond. “I am extremely excited about it and am over the moon how it came out,” said Bauer in regard to the then un-named solo album, now revealed to be called Liberation! (the exclamation point is part of the title). When I asked about the Walkmen and its next album or recordings, Bauer answered bluntly and nonchalantly, "The Walkmen have no plans."

Did Bauer know then that The Walkmen might never perform together again? From all accounts, The Walkmen’s set at Union Transfer didn’t seem like a career-ending show. The quintet played 13 songs, the first two backed by the Sun Ra Arkestra with the blistering commitment they’ve brought to each and every thing they’ve ever done. Here’s hoping they just need a vacation from each other rather than a bust-up. The Walkmen are too valuable to lose.

Photo by Arno Frugier

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Posted on Saturday, December 7, 2013