Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Concert review: Vampire Weekend at the Riverside

Black and white plus lights - Ezra Koenig (Vampire Weekend @P... on Twitpic

(h/t to @haleylandsman for the pic)

Vampire Weekend might be one of the most polarizing indie-rock bands around today, but that didn't deter their Milwaukee fans from selling out the Riverside Theater on Tuesday night.

Amidst a backdrop of a gigantic picture of their latest album cover -- apparently the girl's name is Kiersten -- and a bunch of chandeliers, the band played 60+ minutes of their polished, somewhat-wordly, but definitely danceable indie-pop.

Considering Vampire Weekend only has two albums under its belt, I was pleasantly surprised to find how tight and comfortable the band sounded. They opened with two tracks from their new LP Contra, "White Sky" and the sunny, should-be-the-next-single "Holiday." The crowd that was formerly subdued by openers Abe Vigoda was now on its feet and wouldn't sit down for the rest of the set.

Lead singer Ezra Koenig didn't talk much, but was unfailingly polite when he did. He acknowledged that though the show was in a theater, that people could still dance. "Sometimes the most fun you can have is in restricted spaces!" he said, as the band launched into the fantastic "A-Punk." You might not believe me, but in the floor area where they took out some of the seats there was indeed a couple of crowd-surfers for this song. I wasn't aware hipster douches knew how to have fun unironically.

The rest of the set was a mix of tracks from Vampire Weekend's debut album and their new one. I particularly enjoyed "M79" and "Oxford Comma," while the deliberately Auto-Tuned "California English" was a lowlight for me. Also, during the rather boring "Diplomat's Son" I went on a beer run for a $3 PBR Tallboy.

Vampire Weekend came out for a three-song encore, which was highlighted by set-closer "Walcott," which is probably my second-favorite song of theirs ("Oxford Comma" is the first). Overall, they set the tone perfectly; it was a show full of good vibes and fun times set to breezy, infinitely catchy pop music, lack of balls be damned.

Openers Abe Vigoda did not fare nearly as well. They sounded generic and the lead singer tried too hard to sound like Robert Smith of the Cure. The actual Abe Vigoda may or may not have been more entertaining.

List of songs played in no particular order:

"Night Sky"
"Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa"
"Oxford Comma"
"California English"
"One (Blake's Got A New Face)"
"Giving Up the Gun"
"Diplomat's Son"

"Mansard Roof"


  1. 60 minutes? What a rip off!

  2. Considering their entire catalog is 70 minutes, it's not that bad.