Vampire Weekend at Terminal 5, NYC [Concert Review]

by Woody on December 10, 2008

For me Vampire Weekend represents something of a guilty indulgence.‚  You know the story of the Brooklyn band that generated online buzz with songs referencing the colors of Benetton, Louis Vuitton and the landscape of Cape Cod; not exactly gritty indie topic matter.‚  Yet, it’s hard to deny their infectious, “happy” Afro-pop melodies that seem to be equal parts Graceland-era Paul Simon, Peter Gabriel and fellow New Yorkers, the Strokes.

I had the opportunity to see the band on 12/3 on the victory lap of a tour following its critically acclaimed and popular self-titled 2008 release.‚ ‚  My previous experience with the band was at the Pitchfork Music Festival last summer–not the right venue for the band as they were sandwiched between indie darlings Fleet Foxes, !!!, and The Hold Steady.‚  Furthermore, it seemed most of that crowd was merely waiting around for Animal Collective’s clean-up act.‚  In summary, the Pitchfork show failed to impress.

Wednesday’s show fared much better as the close confines and superior acoustics of the Westside Manhattan location, Terminal 5, and adoring hometown crowd that mouthed every lyric from opening number “Mansard Roof” to the “Walcott” encore, combined to create a rewarding, energized experience.‚  The band was influenced by the atmosphere, as evidenced by their ramped-up tempo.‚  The set list featured the entirety of a modest but strong catalogue, sprinkling in the syrupy Fleetwood Mac cover “Everywhere” and newer material “Ottoman.”‚  However, the most interesting and flavorful touch was the small string section that accompanied the band for a brief period onstage.

Vampire Weekend was in its full glory on this evening, interacting seamlessly with its fellow New Yorkers and casually referencing local landmarks. I’m eager to see how the future unfolds for these guys as they attempt to fend off the dreaded “sophomore slump” that’s taken down many bands coming off fresh, similarly hyped debuts (please see Tapes N Tapes).‚  That will all be determined in good time for on this evening, the band rocked a revering local crowd.

Vampire Weekend – Oxford Comma

Here’s a sneak peek of “Ottoman”

{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

DBT Chicago December 10, 2008 at 1:05 pm

i agree. vampire weekend is like drinking hard lemonade, especially if you’re a 33-year-old man. you probably shouldn’t drink it, but i bet it tastes good. i saw the band in chicago on april 6 at the metro. while they sounded great, the columbia kids lacked any stage presence. but i would go check them out again.
if you haven’t seen or heard this, i recommend it:
http://pitchfork.tv/special-presentation/vampire-weekend-secret-session-columbia-university

oz December 10, 2008 at 3:58 pm

Starkey – welcome to HearYa. First write-up and no one called you pathetic or yelled at you for making fun of Amy Winehouse. You have much to look forward to.

theOCMD December 12, 2008 at 6:12 pm

Probably one of the most over hyped bands of 2008, but if you like Indie pop they definitely deliver. I too saw them play with a string section and was quite impressed. They sounded really good.

Starkey December 14, 2008 at 10:51 am

OCMD, thanks for the post and agree with your views on the over-hyped nature of the band, but I do think they provided a rather fresh sound to the music scene in 08. Also, the “mainstream” publicity surrounding this band, along with some recent other indie artists such as Fleet Foxes, is refreshing distraction from Cold play and Kanye coverage.

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