Out of all of the Big Day Out sideshows, it was Vampire Weekend that I was undoubtedly the keenest for. And now, after seeing their vibrant and victorious live set (away from near 46-degree heat) I’m the happiest and delighted being.
Arriving in perfect time, the lights dimmed and Sures took to the stage. I last saw Sures as support for The Rubens last April and, to be honest, was much less than impressed. So hearing they were Vampire Weekend’s support, I was eager to see how nine months might have improved their show.
I was pleasantly surprised. They didn’t appear as the young, un-tuned, unsure Sures as they did that night, but were more comfortable, settled, and by song three, much, much stronger. Those unison yell-vocals came out at us as with a hit.
Their New-Year-appropriate cover of Kylie’s Can’t Get You Out of My Head showed their indie-rock manner to be quite casual, dazed and stylistically relaxed, and even though the lead vocals still remained a little strained, the strong drumming and those ringing metallic guitar riffs throughout their tunes were catchable, drawing them together.
With an encouraging crowd and driving rhythm, and even some quirky spoken vocals over the bridge, Stars was a true stand-out. Sures surely have me interested once more.
The now packed-out Metro began to blow and shake as the beloved Vampire Weekend walked out. Blasting immediately into Cousins, our bodies bounced as smiles were whacked onto our faces.
Their sound was flawlessly balanced and allowed for each thought-out layer to ring clear. The fast-paced guitar was tight, lights colourfully flashed in spectacular time, and the four members of the band instantaneously showed their incredibly cute and energetic attitudes, particularly Chris Baio on bass. Watching his footwork and shoulder moves as he sprung about the stage in those white jeans hilariously warmed my heart. And leading into White Sky, Chris Tomson on drums stood up for a quick hip dance of his own. Seeing their charismatic enthusiasm made it all the more fun.
Vampire Weekend are one of those bands who can throw out hook after hook, and get a bite for every one. Catchy, erratic guitar that dances straight into your ear (like that opener to Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa) and thoughtful vocal melodies that are equally as rhythmic as they are lyrically distinct. On the night, Ezra Koenig couldn’t be faulted. His voice was clear throughout every wordy verse and had a casual, swarve manner that made his every note seem easy and completely second nature.
Yet in no way were any songs stale. Conversely, each one had crisp and lively energy, showing how much they’re still so loved by the band. Especially Run with exciting strobes flickering fast, and the complete crowd pleasers Holiday and A-Punk. The drums were fast and thundered with reverbing, lifting toms.
With the anticipated release of their third album, Vampire Weekend graciously previewed a few new tracks. The first was with acoustic guitar, extra synth flavour and memorable, strong beats. We all clapped along approvingly.
Swapping to a twelve string, we were next given an Australian debut of I Think UR a Contra. The song soared around us with gorgeous reverb synth chords and twangy guitar, and the polyrhythms towards the end of faster handclaps over that shuffling beat gave the song life.
After a sing-a-long to the happy Horchata, we were shown another newbie. Identifiably Vampire Weekend, the track was rhythmic and surprising with sudden changes and layers. I love the unpredictable variations within their tracks and their ability to hold, or hold off on a change, pushing the boundaries of what feels natural by just enough. Just like the reggae breakdown in Diplomat’s Son. So good.
To take us to a glorious ending, the echoing bass drum boomed as the bass bounced up the major scale and the crowd sang along to Campus. Without any sign of wearing, the band dynamically smashed into Oxford Comma without pausing, dazzling highs all ‘round. To finish was Giving Up the Gun, complete with electronic rhythmic samples blaring through with spontaneous vigor.
Their inevitable encore was welcomed with cheers that made my ears happily ache. One (Blake’s Got a New Face) needed no encouragement for crowd participation, and we couldn’t keep from moving joyously to Mansford Roof. Keeping with tradition, Vampire Weekend finished with their goodbye song, Walcott. As we left, not a face amongst us wore a frown.
Vampire Weekend – you will forever indie-rock my world.
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
New Song 1
I Think UR a Contra
I Stand Corrected
New Song 2
Giving Up the Gun
One (Blake’s Got a New Face)
Check out photos from the show…