The Scene: I knew what I was getting myself into when I took off to head to the Vampire Weekend show at the Bluebird on April Fools Day. The show had been sold out for months and the buzz that has been surrounding this band has been practically deafening since the beginning of the year.
To my surprise the room was not wall to wall people and in fact I was able to walk down to within about 15 feet of the stage without much of a problem and without ruffling anyone’s feathers. Kinda nice since I walked in right when the band was coming on stage.
The faces singing and bopping along to the music were not the usual Denver Indie-Rock crowd. It was a diverse crowd made up of curious NPR listeners, preppy transplants who wanted a dose of New England and, of course, the kids who are completely gaga for this relatively mediocre group of NYC prepsters.
Vampire Weekend: First, I’ve got to say that it is almost impossible to live up to the hype that has been swirling around the this band for the last 8 months or more. They had a review in the New York Times before they even had an album out for heaven’s sake!!!
At first glance, the bands lead singer and guitarist Ezra Koenig fit the image I had in my head about this group of New York City kids who had all met at Columbia and sing about Cape Cod. He was wearing a navy cardigan with birds on it, jeans and a pair of topsiders . . . really . . . topsiders?
Anyway, about the music, overall it was only fine. It is catchy as hell and, yes, the african influences (see Paul Simon’s Graceland) are all over the place. While the guitar lines and rhythms are interesting at first listen on the album I don’t think they are going to stand the test of time. However, since they had a sold-out room dancing and singing along to every song on a Tuesday night in Denver, I don’t think that Koenig and his band are too worried about standing the test of time at this point.
Including blog favorites “I Stand Corrected,” “Campus,” and “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance,” the set was obviously littered with material from Vampire Weekend, the band’s debut album. I was pleasantly suprised when they broke out a new song and, while still drawing on the same jangly influences, it seemed to be a little bit more interesting at first listen. I will be interested to see what happens when their sophomore release drops after the hectic touring winds down later this year.
Koenig’s slightly nervous banter between served it’s purpose in prolonging the set and it also allowed people time to run to the bar or hit the bathroom as he mused about April Fools Day and made countless innane references to a sign he saw on the way into town referring to Denver as Denco. I will give him credit however, that he thanked the crowd on numerous occasions and even made reference to The Hi-Dive by name when he mentioned the sparse attendence at their first appearance in Denver last year.
The sharp contrast in attendance at this gig allowed him to orchestrate a massive sing-along to the sharp and upbeat “One (Blake’s Got a New Face).” Nearly every voice in the theater joined in to replace the backup singers that appear on the album and I’ve got to admit that I was impressed by the volume coming from the fans.
After a short encore break the band returned to close out their brief set to the delight of the crowd with the surpremely catchy “Walcott.” Though it was an entertaining evening of borderline bublegum pop, with a set that clocked it in at merely 50 minutes it must have been a bitter pill to swallow for the folks that coughed up the $40 or $50 that these tickets were commanding on Craigslist.
Next time I am going to have to remind myself that a meteoric rise to prominence isn’t necessarily a good thing when it comes to pop music . . . at least in my mind.
Stage Presence: B-
Set/Light Show: C-