Hamilton Leithauser at The Opera House

The Oprah House has an interesting stand on security, as my friend and I accidently walked through the wrong door for coat check and got into the venue without scanning our tickets. It was a rush, mostly because we actually bought tickets.

Of course, our ideal scenario would consist of us getting caught, and then dramatically saying “Oh what, these old things” and of course it wouldn’t work as well, because I’d have to open the app, and let’s be real, physical tickets are so much more dramatic. But yeah, I’m all for safety, so let’s fix that, you guys.

To Mr. Hamilton Leithauser, whose album “I had a dream that you were mine” was a-top my favourite albums of 2016. Despite this, I had little anticipation. I didn’t quite know what the fans would be like, what the crowd would be like, and ultimately how his rather chill music would translate to a live setting. Imagine moshing to “Alexandra”?

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But right off the first note of his opening track “When the Truth Is”, I knew it wouldn’t matter. Immediately after the song finished, my friend and I shared a look and simply nodded because we knew what we felt. Hamilton’s voice transcends basic Iphone audio, and so my recordings struggle to pick up some of his higher notes. Our videos of course, do not do the show justice, but in the moment I can assure you that each time he erupted and yelled his lyrics, my body was overwhelmed with goose bumps, and my vocal chords regressed into my stomach, because I wished I could do what he could.

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Hamilton Leithauser is an act to behold, as his voice not only travels throughout the venue, but it hits your heart and makes you remember what it feels like to love music. We were fortunate to capture the entire performance of “Peaceful Morning”, which was hands down the stand out song of the concert, but the video doesn’t quite do the experience justice. Even Hamilton understood the performance was special, as he hit his last note and said “I’m not sure why that’s called “Peaceful Morning”.

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Even songs that I’m not particular in love with like “The Brides Dad”, and “Morning Stars” happened to be brilliant live, as they were made more up tempo, and given some back story.

In a small break before playing “The Bride’s Dad”, Hamilton gave us his inspiration on the song.

Hamilton stated that he was invited to one of his friend’s weddings last second, and was seated at the farthest table in the back. Amongst strangers and slight acquaintances, he remembers a speech being said prior to dinner being served. He says, the man speaking had a way with words. He was honest, funny, charming and yet was surprisingly met with a very cold crowd. Hamilton was seemingly the only one who liked him, and eventually the man was escorted out of the venue. The man happened to be the bride’s dad, who was not invited to the wedding. “Everybody hated him”, Hamilton said, “but all I knew is I loved the dude, so I wrote this song from his perspective”

It was moments like this one, where you add value to some of your favourite music. To know where the inspiration comes from on songs adds an added dimension, as you can now further empathize with the artist. He did this once more with “I Retired”, as he states it was written with Rostam, as a song to keep trucking on, to keep making music, and to push through the bad times. I listen to this now, thinking about his career with the Walkman, and Rostam’s with Vampire Weekend.

It’s always bittersweet watching an amazing act. You appreciate how incredible the show was, you cherish the memories created, and the experience shared, and yet feel sad knowing you’ll likely have to wait years to see them again. There is no guarantee Leithauser returns to Toronto, but if he does I urge you to take the opportunity to see him. If not, rest assured knowing this wonderful version of ‘Peaceful Morning’ exists in video format.
See you guys at the next Hamilton Leithauser show in…2-5 years?

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