Seriously, Walkmen?

OK. "Little House of Savages" was top-notch. "Thinking of a Dream I Had" was transcendent. The new stuff sounded great.

But where do you get off not playing "The Rat"? Sure, that girl in the second row wouldn't shut up about it. But surely you didn't abstain just to spite her?

No, I think I know what happened. You fear that eventually we'll forget all of your other wonderful songs, with their free-form wailing, their scathing reverbed guitars, their rich organ sounds and brilliantly economical rhythm section. You're afraid of having your impressive catalog reduced to one measly hit, so you withheld it.

But there's nothing measly about "The Rat." It's an explosive rock tune—among your finest, for sure—and its appearance on the setlist would have rocketed this show to the heavens. Instead, after starting incredibly strong with some pummeling unreleased material and some of the best of Bows and Arrows, you let the set trickle off into obscure, soft-spoken numbers that crushed the momentum. Your rendition of early hit "Wake Up" only reinforced how far you've come since then. And your encore defined anticlimax.

You did get off to such a thrilling start, though. Your louder songs sound downright brutal in their stage versions, and several of those new compositions seem like they could be battering eardrums and inspiring rapture for years to come. I'll look back fondly on the memory of your towering lead singer bent back like a tree in a tornado, belting out cat-scratched glory notes.

Had the first two thirds of the show not been so sublime, you might have been upstaged by your opening act, White Rabbits, who owe so much of their sound to you yet manage to take it in enough new directions to call it their own. Their music was celebratory where yours aches, and while they haven't learned just yet how to squeeze soul-searing emotion out of a song, they sure as hell know how to jam one with good ideas.

You don't seem like bad guys. You were quite friendly from the stage. Hell, you even let White Rabbits borrow a good portion of your gear, allowing for a snappy transition between sets. It's a shame you had to fall into that old rock star ego trap and mar an otherwise stupendous night of live music at The Basement.