Vampire Weekend @ El Rey, 3/20/08
There is little doubt that by now you have seen them on MTV, heard them on KROQ or Indie or seen them on SNL, if you haven't then it must be dark in that cave. The ginormous hype machine known as Vampire Weekend came through LA Thursday night to play their first proper show in support of their debut self-titled album. With tickets reportedly going for upwards of $400 a pair on ebay, (!!) the mere curiosity factor of seeing whether this band could deliver would almost be enough to warrant attendance. Once the prep-rockers hit the stage and began their set it was clear that this band does indeed deserve the hype and praise they have been given. With their quirky blend of afro-pop and world influences they bring a refreshing vibe that is unlike anything out today.
The four Lacoste clad, Columbia University grads, led by front man Ezra Koenig, seem less concerned with being a "hype band" than making fun and interesting music. Their tracks have a certain cleanliness to them, not so much in the lyrics but more in the overall feeling to their sound. Many have compared them to Paul Simon or even the Strokes, the former comparison their sound and the latter their presence and popularity. While the arguments for both of these claims is valid it is also useless as the bottom line is output and whether the band connects with you on a personal level.
Their set consisted entirely of their 11-song debut album as well as a few b-sides and a new song, "California" which went over very well with the crowd. Before introducing the song Koenig said, "California is a very special and magical place for me." The crowd loved each song the band brought out, from their break-out hit "A-Punk" to show closer "Walcott" the younger crowd was putty in Koenig's hands. It is interesting to see how this younger generation of listeners the band attracts relate to their music as most of their lyrics relate to collegiate life in New England. Nonetheless they ate up every second the band was on stage.
The most refreshing part of the band is their age, as they are all around 23 years of age the amount of prowess and composure they already possess on stage is quite amazing for a band that has only just released their debut album. At the same time they still have an air of innocence that makes them so immediately accessible and is another part of their draw. They will most likely receive an incredible amount of backlash in the months to come as they bring their sound through the various festivals through out America but many bands have come through the same path they have, Clap Your Hands Say Yeah! and the Arctic Monkeys are just two of the names that come to mind but in the end Vampire Weekend will thrive.