Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Vampire Weekend @ Bottletree, 3/10/08

The rolling ball of butcher knives that is Vampire Weekend rolled its way into Dixie last night with a sold out show at Bottletree. Even as openers (?) for The Walkmen, the excitement was unmistakeable in the crowded barroom. VW truly has a house band party feel, with friendly banter and all, although the packed in patrons didn’t feel quite the freedom to bounce around and dance like the band may have liked. Very diverse crowd, a clear sign they are slowly slipping into the mainstream.

Gained a new appreciation for Ezra Koenig’s voice: his vocals were even stronger live than on the album, which I had feared may have been significantly produced, especially after seeing what appeared to be a somewhat timid performance on SNL. Inflection is his scalpel which he uses to dissect the chorus of every song with each new repetition. Plus, he’s LOUD. The bellowing, accented vocals on “One”, “A-Punk”, and a new, unnamed song they played, will make you stand at attention if you aren’t already engulfed in the rhythms and beats. For the first time I recognized that the vocals tip a hat to African music just as much as the instrumentation of this band.

Ever since I bought this ticket (on 12/26) I have been wondering how they would do the string arrangements in some of their songs. On SNL they had a quartet bunched up in the corner of the stage. Wasn't sure if they would take it on tour, as 4 extra is a considerable number for a long road trip. Well, they left the strings at home, substituting Rostam Batmanglij's Casio, which filled in quite nicely, even on the string-heavy “M79”.

The energy from the band was great, from the facial expressions to the busted snare. Some of my favorite moments: the preamble to "A-Punk" (they always ask the crowd to dance) and the extra impromptu yells; the thumping base line form "Campus"; and the "trust building exercise" for the crowd's response in "One" ("Blake's got a new face!).

Set List:

Mansard Roof
I Stand Corrected
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
One (Blake's got a new face)

New "no name" song

Oxford Comma

(Great set, just a little disappointed they didn't play "Walcott".)

As for the headliners The Walkmen...I bailed before they came on stage. Sorry, I know this is weak cheese. No offense to the band (I am sure they are great since they have been around for a while), but it was a school night.

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