It feels like a lifetime in between Vampire Weekend‘s past two visits to Sydney. Since their performance at the Hordern Pavilion in 2014, Donald Trump became president, Ezra Koenig became a father and Rostam Batmanglij – a key and formative member of the band – announced his departure.
And there was as long between their past two albums – 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City and 2019’s Father of the Bride. The world has changed drastically, the band has changed drastically and even their die-hard legion of fans have changed drastically, so it would be fair to assume that the band might have been a little hesitant to return to Sydney.
But, once a packed out Enmore Theatre filed out of the building following the show’s conclusion, it was obvious that any hesitation wasn’t necessary.
Anyone who saw the band at their one-off headlining set at 2018’s Splendour In The Grass would know that their live touring lineup is seven people strong, meaning that they were all very compacted on the Enmore stage once they walked out in front of a giant inflatable globe. But, the energy that they unleashed more than made up for the lack of space.
Opening with Father of the Bride cut ‘Bambina’, it was clear this was going to be one sweaty gig. As they traversed through a back catalogue of songs like ‘White Sky’, ‘Holiday’ and ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’, the electricity in the air didn’t fizzle out once.
About a quarter of the way through the gig, Koenig and co. opted to take it a little easier, giving the audience a chance to both catch their breath and wipe their sweat. With songs like ‘Step’, ‘Everlasting Arms’ and ‘Unbearably White’, the band lulled the crowd into a false sense of security before unleashing an absolutely monstrous trifecta of singles.
‘Diane Young’ followed by ‘Cousins’ followed by ‘A-Punk’. The biggest singles taken from their first three albums, back-t0-back, no stopping. It was relentless and it was chaotic, but it was so damn fun.
They also whipped out a few surprises, too. Interpolating Koenig’s Major Lazer collab ‘Jessica’ with fan favourite ‘Diplomat’s Son’ was a perfect palate cleanser, and the seemingly spontaneous cover of Bruce Springsteen’s ‘I’m Goin’ Down’ spurred by Koenig seeing a fan-held sign that read ‘Jersey Girl’ was a thing to behold.
As we neared the end of their 28 song deep setlist, Koenig announced that the band would take a few requests. These requests were a little unorthodox – 2010’s ‘Giving Up The Gun’, Koenig’s 2014 collab with producer SBTRKT ‘New Dorp. New York’ and a sneaky, two line snippet of ‘Horchata – but they served as a monumental build up for the band’s standard closer ‘Walcott’.
And as those chaotic piano keys and “out of Cape Cod tonight” sing-a-longs drew to a close, Koenig promised the crowd that it wouldn’t be six years before they returned again, and thank god for that.
Gallery: Vampire Weekend – Enmore Theatre, Sydney 9/1/20 – Photos: Dan Lynch/@danlynch