Live Music + Gig Reviews

Vampire Weekend @ KCLSU, London

15 October 2009

Vampire Weekend showed up in London to preview new songs from new album Contra, set for release in January 2010, in the cosy surroundings of a student union. They packed alot in during a polished 45 minute performance.

Singer Ezra Koenig described the band as being in a transitionalperiod; accordingly they played old material alongside their new songs. Admittedly, ‘old’ within the context of this bandshould be taken with a pinch of salt; their first album only came outlast year.

This might have been the reason for Koenig seemingsurprised at how well the crowd knew the lyrics. They sangalong with gusto to the tunes from the band’s eponymous 2008 offering. But heused this to good effect with a call and response during One (Blake’sGot A New Face).

The new material includedHorchata, which is available to listen to on their website at themoment. If you’re impatient, you can also hear other new tracks onYouTube that fans have recorded live, such as White Sky, which is trueto their established Afro-pop sensibilities. It has some impressivehigh-pitched singing from Koenig, for good measure.

Another corker wasRun, which had fantastic drumming throughout. Indeed, all the bandmembers earned their money “having anice sweaty time”, as Koenig put it. The air conditioning did eventuallykick in, but the towels the roadies laid out for themsure came in handy.

The distinctive opening of A-Punk had to be started twice, afterKoenig broke a string on his guitar the first time round. (It was thefirst time he’d done that in a while, apparently.) He noted that it onlytakes two strings to play this song, and refused to do it with one,adding simply: “Give the people what they want!”

Incidentally, it’s atravesty that when this track was released as a single, the highestposition it achieved in the UK charts was 55. It didn’t fare much betterin the States, reaching 25 on the US Modern Rock chart. The crowd wentdutifully nuts when it was played, and were pretty rowdythroughout the evening; there was even a lone crowdsurfer, briefly. Watching over it all was a stern looking female bouncer whobore a striking resemblance to the mad Scottish actress from Green Wing.

They finished their main set with Campus, followed immediately afterby Oxford Comma in a very slick transition and left the stage todeafening applause. The encore featured Walcott – which seemsto be something of a tradition of theirs. It makes a lot of sense, as itwas a great way to bring the evening to a close. They’ll be back in town in the New Year to promote their new album. Get tickets any way you can.

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