Vampire Weekend

Posted September 19, 2008 in Music

Some music translates better in moderate-sized venues. The laid-back, Afrobeat and chamber pop styles of Vampire Weekend—arguably 2008’s biggest buzz band—are a prime example. Last spring, I caught them for the first time at the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. That afternoon slot on the Outdoor Theatre stage was admirable at best. Lately, the literary-minded New Yorkers have been playing large theaters around the country, so the chance to catch them at the 800-capacity Glass House was an opportunity not to be missed. 


A young audience packed the sweaty place (I wish the owner would turn on the fans once in awhile). The strong 14-song concert featured the entire Vampire Weekend album. No covers (like Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere,” which they did in Australia over the summer) to fill out the brisk 50-minute set though. A deranged heckler at the far side of the stage kept yelling unintelligible remarks. Singer/guitarist Ezra Koenig—clad in trademark Bermuda shorts and polo shirt—joked about the interruptions and didn’t let it rattle him. 


The fun, ska-tinged alt-radio hit “A-Punk” found the audience pogoing along and chanting the “hey” refrain. Koenig initiated the giddy call and response action on “One (Blake’s Got a New Face).” Later, he described “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” as “our slow jam.” Keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij—looking dapper in a kerchief—triggered the beautiful orchestration, while Koenig countered with Durutti Column-styled guitar lines. The polyrhythmic “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” was a definite highlight. Yes, it’s the one where Koenig name-checks Peter Gabriel (the man himself apparently digs the tune). An energetic “Walcott,” inspired by the “Vampire Weekend” student film Koenig made in college, capped things off and left the crowd wanting more. 

–George A. Paul



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