…No, I couldn’t think of a better headline.
Oftentimes when I listen to records, I wonder what the artist or band I’m listening to would sound like live. Even though we live in an era where you can easily see bands perform on late-night TV or on one of a million video networks or any site cool enough to be able to host live performances, there’s nothing that can really compare to having a band playing in the same room as you.
I was pretty psyched to see Vampire Weekend. Their self-titled debut landed on my radar after my former co-worker Caroline (who went to Columbia U with the band members) got an advance of the album and played it literally every fucking day. It wound up being my favorite album of the year. This year’s follow up, “Contra”, didn’t give me the same immediate jollies as the debut did (I guess at least partially because I already knew what to expect), but it’s still got a solid spot in my top 10 or 20 for the year. So when the opportunity to see them live came about, I jumped on it.
The fact that they managed to sell out Boston’s Bank of America Pavilion speaks for itself. The fact that they managed to keep the audience entertained throughout their 90-minute set was somewhat surprising to me, as I’d heard mixed takes on VW’s ability to bring it live. I will say that the element of the show that grabbed me the most was the energy…fans were there to party. Never mind that it was a Sunday night and most folks had to go to school or work early the next morning-the (largely collegiate and annoying hipster-age) crowd was ready to leave that 9 to 5 up on the shelf and enjoy themselves.
Enjoy themselves they did. VW ripped through almost every song in their two album catalog, adding a cover of Springsteen’s “I’m Goin’ Down” (which I profiled on the site a week or so ago) and appropriately including the B-side “Ladies of Cambridge”. The band was super-tight and relatively energetic. Chris Baio bounced around with his bass while Rostam Batmanglij darted back and forth between keyboards and guitar. Meanwhile, lead singer Ezra Koenig worked his schoolboy charm, winning over the fawning females in the audience and probably a few of the guys too (he’s also a MUCH better vocalist than I pegged him to be).
My only complaint is that the band could stand to be a tad looser. There were no extended jams, no real solos. Everything sounded almost exactly like it sounds on record. I also feel like the energy level, as high as it was, would have been off the charts if VW had played a smaller venue (or maybe I was just salty because my seats weren’t closer). No matter-the band delivered a solid show, and although I was stressing a little over my decision to forgo the VMAs to attend the show, I certainly have no doubt that I made the right decision now!