Live Last Night (Two Nights Ago): Vampire Weekend

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(All pictures, as always, by Kyle "Leafblower" Gustafson. Go Rondo!)

Some people really love Vampire Weekend, as evidenced by the fact that the Brooklyn band's two sold-out shows at the 9:30 club sold out within minutes of going on sale. Some people really despise Vampire Weekend, calling them preppy-indie frauds. A quick rise to stardom has made Vampire Weekend a bit of a polarizing band, but after seeing them at 9:30 club on Tuesday night it was hard to figure what either side is getting so worked up about.

Vampire Weekend is the perfect example of a band that is simply very pleasant. Maybe even a little more than that when they kick into high gear on songs like "Walcott" and "A-Punk." If I had to pick a side in this battle, I'd certainly go with "greatest thing in the world." But a large part of their charm is that they don't aspire or claim to be the newest, greatest or edgiest thing in the world. In my review of their February show I said "the only objectionable thing about Vampire Weekend is the complete lack of any objectionable qualities." But for a bunch of Ivy League kids, why would they front any other way? If you're looking for something edgy, go to the Velvet Lounge. (Especially on December 10 to see the Points, now New York Times approved!) For finely constructed, toe-tapping pop, it doesn't get much better than Vampire Weekend.

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There wasn't much to differentiate this show from the band's February performance. They were certainly a bit more assured, but confidence never seemed to be a problem for these guys. Unlike, say, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, another Brooklyn band catapulted to indie fame by blogland, Vampire Weekend has always seemed ready for its closeup. The songs on the band's self-titled debut came fully formed, with a distinct style. Call it quad rock. Some polyrhythms, chiming guitar, rolling drums, soft keyboard and Ezra Koenig's cooing vocals. The two new songs performed on Tuesday stayed true to that style, although one seemed to rely on some pre-programmed beats. The hour-long performance may have left some wanting more -- although it was hard to know what those people were expecting since the band has just one album and has been on the road constantly since it came out -- but it was the perfect amount of time for them to be on stage. It kept everything fresh.

As an amateur music sociologist I was very interested in what the makeup of the crowd would be and here's what I can report. Not nearly as many Xs on hands as I thought there would be, although they could have been hanging out up at the front, away from the bars. It was an exceedingly polite crowd. I get bumped into dozens of times at every sold-out 9:30 club show I go to, but a higher percentage of people said "I'm sorry" or "excuse me" at this show than most others. I was also pleasantly surprised by the lack of camera phones in the air at all times. As for the preppy contingent ... well, the guy in front of me was wearing a collared shirt and a Titleist cap.

Oh, and a brief bit of trivia was explained by keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij. In the song "M79," there's a lyric "singing praise for Jackson Crowder." If you've been curious about who exactly Jackson Crowder is and your Google searches have been fruitless, here's the explanation. He was just a dude that went to high school with Batmanglij. They rode the bus together. Along with one of the bartenders at the 9:30 club. (Batmanglij grew up in the D.C. area.)

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(More pictures after the jump.)

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By David Malitz |  December 4, 2008; 7:55 AM ET Live Last Night
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they suck.

Posted by: seannn | December 5, 2008 1:56 AM

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