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See the Walkman’s First Performance (Other Than a Soundcheck) in a Decade

Reunited group performed “The Rat” on ‘The Late Show’

The Walkmen ended a decade of “extreme hiatus” Tuesday with a performance of “The Rat” on The Late Show With Stephen Colbert. The performance, which for now inexplicably lives solely on Colbert’s Twitter, opened with the Bows + Arrows song’s tremulous guitars and carnival organ rattles as frontman Hamilton Leithauser keens, “You’ve got a neeerve to be asking a favor.” The quintet played with youthful energy, the only signs of the years in between showing in their unscruffy haircuts. When they finished, Leithauser held up a peace V, and keyboardist Walter Martin waved at the crowd.


The performance is even more remarkable, knowing this was literally the second time they played together in a decade. Last week, the group tweeted their plans to walk the tightrope without a net. “Ever since we started the Walkmen, we’ve done everything by the seat of our pants,” they wrote in another Twitter video. “We don’t ‘plan’ much. So during our Zoom ‘planning’ meeting, we decided the best way to play together for the very first time would be on national television without a single rehearsal. So next Tuesday, we will be playing ‘The Rat’ on Stephen Colbert. It will be the first time we have played together in 10 years.” Before the video was done, though, they revised their claim: “I guess there will be a soundcheck, but we don’t even know if this equipment works.”

The Walkmen will kick off a reunion tour on Monday with a run of shows at New York City’s Webster Hall. They also have gigs planned this spring in Philly, Atlanta, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.  “Back in 2013, an unnamed Walkmen band member (Peter Bauer) announced to the Washington Post that we were going on an ‘extreme hiatus,’” the group said in a statement. “Recently, someone sent us a clip of us playing at Irving Plaza from 2003, and it just looked very exciting. So we’ve decided we’d like to play together again. Right now, we are very thrilled to announce that we will be playing at Webster Hall in 2023. See you soon.”

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