Walking Papers’ Angell Hit Like A Sledgehammer At The Hammerstein THOUGHTS+PHOTOS: WALKING PAPERS @ HAMMERSTEIN BALLROOM 5/7/18
NEW YORK, NY- Walking Papers is a band whose current line-up consists of vocalist Jeff Angell, bassist Dan Spalding, Benjamin Anderson on the keys, and Will Andrews on percussion, with Gregor Lothian on Sax and Tristan Hart Pierce on guitar, and when they took the Hammerstein Ballroom they didn’t disappoint when they opened for Alice In Chains to a packed crowd of New Yorkers.
Never lingering on a particular mood for too long, Walking Papers powered their way through a set that featured mostly cuts from “WP2”, their sophomore album released earlier this year on Loud & Proud Records. Heralded by many as the best rock album of the year, Walking Papers manages to create a sound that is paradoxically familiar yet remains fresh and innovative. “Don’t Owe Me Nothin” and “Death On the Lips” stood out to me as the yin and yang of the album, but Walking Papers’ sheer variation will leave fans drawing their own unique conclusions. Instrumentally, the band is absolutely top notch, but Angell’s brutally honest lyricism is truly what ties this work of art together. Witty yet truthful songwriting on ”I Know You’re Lying” is just one example of how cool this man is:
”I throw myself on your grenade but i’m not drinking the Kool-Aid/I know that you’re lying/I just can’t tell if it’s when you say you love me or when you say ‘I wish you’d go to hell’”
Lyrics like that aren’t written overnight, but rather after a lifetime of heartache and scar tissue. Nowadays, fans and critics alike are quick to overcomplicate and overanalyze musicians, but at the end of the day, Walking Papers are modern day rockstars — pure and simple.
Hammerstein Ballroom’s vaulted, intricately designed ceiling seemed to add a layer of sacredness to Walking Papers’ style of rock n’ roll – which these guys were clearly mastering. As their symphony of drums, keys, sax, bass, and mind-bending guitar riffs kicked in, I couldn’t help but join in with the hundreds of head-banging fans.
The group was able to create a familiar rock n’ roll experience but in their own special way. Using the sax and keys to mold their melodic soundscapes, and Martin’s drumming to accentuate Angell’s already earth-shattering vocals, the group made incredibly powerful music that wasn’t just a cacophony of guitar riffs and drum solos – but carefully crafted and curated records. Shifting effortlessly from invigorating foot-stompers, to heartbreaking ballads, Walking Papers sonically create an emotional rollercoaster that you won’t want to end.
As impressed as I was by the bands’ collective musicality and chemistry, the true star of the show was their frontman, Jeff Angell. Angell’s raspy vocals hit like a sledgehammer as he leaned into the crowd, getting as close as possible to his fans without falling off the stage. Angell’s voice made it difficult for me not to start a moshpit in the group of dads I found myself surrounded by. Having said that, I don’t believe that his presence took away from the magic that every single one of those guys brought together to make Walking Papers a legendary act in-the-making.