April 6, 2010

My favorite Vampire-related indulgence

Vampire Weekend - DAR Constitution Hall - April 3, 2010

Once I drove cross-country, doing sixteen hour days in the backseat of a minivan.  Now every road trip under eight hours feels short.  This somewhat explains what the Wilco show last week did to my concert clock; when the Vampire Weekend show ended in just around ninety minutes on Saturday evening, I was surprised.  But then I realized they played 19 of a 20-something song discography, and I was satisfied.

I had mixed hopes for this show to begin with.  It's in DAR, which is my least favorite venue in Washington, the acoustics more appropriately suited to the seated show of an army band.  However, we had front row tickets.  FRONT ROW!  The only other ever non-GA show I've been front row for was Little Women on Broadway, which received "abrasive" reviews. It soared above my expectations (not Little Women, Vampire Weekend!).

The sound rarely strayed into jamming, sometimes got off tempo (intentionally?), but sounded brighter than listening to the album alone.  And speaking from the perspective of a fan, not an instrumentalist, I'm impressed with them musically.  With an African-inspired sound, the drum plays a bigger role than beat-keeper, which would seem to make live performances tricky for such "novices" (read: wet behind the ears).  Actually witnessing the pieces coming together--the expert keyboard contributions, the spirited guitar playing, the smooth vocals, backed by an eccentric beat--was impressive, especially for such a young bunch.  Highlights included the encore in particular, for me, and A-Punk.

The light show dazzled too: a blown-up backdrop of the Contra blonde with eyes that glowed on occasion, lit by crystal chandeliers on others.  The venue staff was warm and friendly (a first!).  And for being one of the "biggest" (radio-friendly) bands I've seen recently, the guys lacked a jaded affect and seemed to actually enjoy performing.

I love how unapologetic the band is about, well, everything: the erudite lyrical references that half the hipsters have to google (you don't know who Jackson Crowther is, admit it), the dedication to a sound that Paul Simon "pioneered", the small percentage of their fanbase that resembles a boy-band following.  Downsides included that boy-band following (seriously, chill out with the camera), and the sound, which was completely distorted because of our proximity to a speaker.  This probably distorts my opinion as well.

I think aranciata > horchata, never had a Louis Vuitton (nor did my mother), and I give "a f**k about an oxford comma."  I cannot relate to their music at all.  But I sure as hell can dance to it, and sometimes, that's all a girl needs.

  1. White Sky 
  2. Holiday 
  3. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa 
  4. I Stand Corrected 
  5. M79 
  6. Bryn 
  7. California English 
  8. Cousins 
  9. Taxi Cab 
  10. Run 
  11. A-Punk 
  12. One (Blake's Got A New Face) 
  13. Diplomat's Son 
  14. Giving Up the Gun 
  15. Campus 
  16. Oxford Comma
  17. Horchata *
  18. Mansard Roof *
  19. Walcott *
Thanks to www.setlist.fm for the setlist!

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