Vampire Weekend: concert review

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Vampire Weekend took a break from touring their adoring UK and made their way down to New Orleans for the second time in six months. Just a few blocks down from the Quarter, Mahalia Jackson Theater played host on Oct 9 to Vampire Weekend and their headlining band, Beach House.

As the audience screamed in anticipation at any soundman who made his way around the stage in the dark, Beach House got ready to take the stage. They made their entrance in the dark and settled. The lights barely went up, and the band began to play.

Complete with an edgy female singer, mystique was about the only thing they had going for them. Every now and then lead singer Victoria Legrand would waver her arm or flit her wrist, but nothing more.

Even though they had a clear, Coldplay-esque sound, every song sounded like the one before it and lasted a minute too long. About an hour later, they made their way off stage to the cheers of both loyal and polite fans.

After such lukewarm coffee house music, Vampire Weekend ignited the stage like a sparkler out of the dark.

After finding their way to their instruments in the dark, the lights hit hard and with DJ Khali on the loud speaker: “And their hands go up…” two thousand arms reached in the air, “and they stay there, and they stay there.” As we bobbed our arms back and forth in a sea of exhilaration, Vampire Weekend did the same, then cut the track and smashed right into “Holiday.” Everyone jumped right into the music with them, the band jumped around, the spotlights spinning across the crowd.

From the balcony where I sat, they were only good performers. It wasn’t until my mom coaxed me into sneaking to the front rows that I realized they were masters of their audience. They got our adrenaline pumping with a genuine energy. They laughed, talked, taught us responses to songs and dances they thought worked best with certain tracks.

Ezra Koeing’s vocals sounded clear and dead on through a constant grin. Drummer Chris Thomson rocked chilling improv solos, bouncing almost out of his chair as he beat his set. He nearly stole the show without saying a word. Watching him feel every note, every vibration in his wrist and recognizing that concerts still gave him an ultimate rush was almost enough entertainment in itself.

Next best to the band’s contagious energy was the light show. Personally, I haven’t been keen on strobe lights since seventh grade dance parties. But pair that with floating chandeliers that move and light up in sync with Tomson’s drums, blue and purple hues, and a single spotlight to illuminate the drummer against the dark, and you have one of the best shows on tour.

Perhaps it was that the entire band is an absolute foil to what makes a rockstar (which they all inevitably are.) While Koeing commented on the beautiful sea of humanity stretched out in front of him, Chris Baio played the upright bass with elegance, and Rostam Batmanglij shyly played Baroque keyboard progressions.

The band happily encored with three more songs, ending with “Walcott.” The song has a climactic and apocalyptic heir that made it a perfect ending for us fans who whose brain’s could only handle so much more euphoria. Before exiting, Koeing managed to promise above the screams that next time they came back they would bring us Gatorades and a new album. “Whatever it takes to keep you going.”

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