Vampire Weekend | 3.29.10

This show reminded me of seeing the Pixies.

Lifestyles Community Pavilion, Columbus, OH

I made it a point to catch Vampire Weekend’s set at Lollapalooza this past year and I was a little bit underwhelmed. I had made a tough decision to skip Neko Case to see them, and it seemed like a good percentage of the festival had done the same. Unfortunately, the band seemed like a poor fit to play on that large of an outdoor stage, as they lacked some of the polish of some of the other more seasoned acts.  However, the buzz about their performance here in Columbus at the Wexner Center a few years back had been excellent. As a big fan of theirs, I tempered my enthusiasm and decided to give them another shot.

After arriving at the venue, my excitement didn’t exactly grow as the sold out LC Pavilion was packed. As a result, the show was almost certainly going to suffer from the LC’s two most prevalent problems, space and visibility. At 5’10”, I’m not a short person, but at the indoor shows, I often have trouble seeing. During the underwhelming opener Abe Vigoda, I knew this was absolutely the case. While they definitely have one of the best band names, they often lacked any sort of distinct melody through their songs, and didn’t do a good enough job of preparing the crowd.

All of this didn’t matter in the long run, as after my friends and I repositioned ourselves nicely, Vampire Weekend headed to the stage. The first thing I noticed was that their set was awesome. It consisted of six chandeliers providing the lighting, and a giant replica of the Contra album cover as their background. The girl from the photo was also equipped with lights in her eyes, which was just plain cool. As they made their way up on stage and launched into “White Sky,” I instantly knew I could tell how they were going to sound. The intricate yelping chorus had a high potential to fail, so when Ezra Koenig nailed it note perfect, my fears were instantly dissuaded. The rest of the band was right there with him, as it all sounded incredibly tight.

The crowd quickly got into the show, especially as the band smartly filled the beginning of the set with a rundown of some of the best tracks from their debut, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” “I Stand Corrected,” “M79” and “Bryn.” Even though I was having trouble seeing, the sound was very clear as Ezra’s voice and guitar sounded crisp. In addition, Rostam Batmanglij was a highlight, bouncing back and forth between guitar and keyboard and helping carry them through some of their classics.

Although the individual parts sounded almost identical to the album cuts, the mixing is what made their live show a lot more powerful. Vampire Weekend is definitely not the heaviest band in the world, but the bass and drums were given extra volume here and it worked nicely. In fact, one could argue that Chris Tomson, the drummer, was right there with Ezra as the star of the evening. I started noticing him and Ezra dueling for attention during “Cousins,” and he pretty much took over during the drum breaks in “Run.”  For the rest of the set, they shared the spotlight, most noticeably on “A-Punk,” which brought the crowd into a frenzy. When they closed the set with “Campus” and “Oxford Comma,” the fans were just as appreciative, and I personally was very satisfied.

Thankfully, the band returned for an excellent encore, lead by “Horchata,” “Mansard Roof,” and the excellent closer, “Walcott.”  I love seeing a show where I gain appreciation for a song, and although I’ve always liked “Walcott,” it has since become my favorite track on the first album. Overall, this show reminded me of seeing the Pixies, just because of the song length and the resulting long setlist. Since Vampire Weekend rarely ventures above the three minute mark, their hour and a half set contained nearly every song from both of their albums, with no noticeable omissions. Combine that with a surprisingly great stage presence by the entire band and an excellet sound, and Vampire Weekend comes out as a highly recommend show. | Brett Berliner

Setlist:
    •    White Sky
    •    Holiday
    •    Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
    •    I Stand Corrected
    •    M79
    •    Bryn
    •    California English
    •    Cousins
    •    Taxi Cab
    •    Run
    •    A-Punk
    •    One (Blake’s got a New Face)
    •    Diplomat’s Son
    •    Boston (Ladies of Cambridge)
    •    Campus
    •    Oxford Comma
Encore
    •    Horchata
    •    Mansard Roof
    •    Walcott

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