Last weekend, indie pop-rocksters Vampire Weekend played host to two sold out crowds in Vancouver.
I have been a follower of the New York-based band since early 2008 when my good friend Belle (the music savvy chemist) introduced their music to me. She made me listen to their Western-meets-African-pop inspired tune, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, and I fell in love instantly. During this time, the pastel sweater-vested quad were relatively unknown in the mainstream music world. However, the boys found a nice little niche in the indie world; even declared as the best new band of the year even before their self-titled debut album dropped. Belle told me to wait a year or two, “You’ll see, they’ll be huge.” And, I did.
It’s been a couple of years since VW was here last. They played at the now defunct Richard’s on Richards, which I didn’t attend, but to my knowledge, the show wasn’t that hot. Regardless of their last gig in Vancouver, I was pumped for their return. The second that tickets went on sale back in May, I bought my way in to the original sold-out Saturday show (a second gig was added to the Friday due to popular demand).
Months passed by and summer kept me busy with a few live gigs to attend here and there. But VW was the one show I was looking forward to all summer.
Vampire Weekend kicked off their North American tour after a three week break right here at home Friday night. The crowd that night raved all over Twitter and Facebook about how awesome the show was. This only got me more pumped since my show was only less than a day away.
Saturday finally rolled by. I dressed in my most favourite flannel plaid, skinny jeans, canvas shoes (later switching to flip flops), and wayfarer shades (What a poser am I!). When in Rome, do as the Romans is an understatement in this case. I felt like I was dropped into an Urban Outfitters store and not the Stanley Park venue. It was quite bizarre; as if the entire Vancouver indie-hipster population came out to party that night. The crowd was generally young, but overall quite varied in age, ranging from tot to retired senior. Even the babies and seniors were clad in plaid (Whoa! I’m a poet and I just don’t know it!).
As soon as the gates opened at 5:30pm, all the teenie-boppers (ugh!) ran for the stage armoured in digital cameras and iPhones to capture every moment. My friends and I stayed behind the wild tweens and stood our ground maybe 4th or 5th row from the front. Since Malkin Bowl is an outdoor concert pit, most of the population were splayed out on the grass distanced from the stage.
Dressed in all black, the girls quietly walked onto the stage and started playing music without even saying a word about who they are or what they were doing (for a second, I thought they were part of the set-up crew, incidentally also dressed in all black). The crowd was unenthusiastic and the lead guitarist commended us for being very polite to them. There were sparse applause around Malkin Bowl, but that’s about it. Their music was too melancholy for my liking. There are plenty of people who might like their stuff, but I am not one of them.
Next up was Beach House. I’ve heard only but great things from this indie band, but I was not familiar at all with their music. The night before, I listened to some of their songs on Youtube to prep myself for Saturday. I have to be honest, I was not digging it at all. Some people label Beach House’s music as Lo-Fi or Dream Pop. I can understand why; I fell asleep while perusing through their Youtube videos. The band had set up three white pyramids on the stage. I knew right away it was going to be an unusual show. I joked to my friend before they walked onto the stage, “Shall we grab a blanket and lay on the grass? I may fall asleep during their set.” Now before you slap me on the wrist, it gets better. In fact, Beach House may have garnered themselves a new fan: me.
Beach House’s performance live is nothing like their songs on Youtube or MySpace. Although most of their songs are mellow and down-tempo, they’re a lot more livelier than anticipated! Lead singer, Victoria, interacted with the crowd and we didn’t mind it at all. We were more appreciative to this band than the Dum Dum Girls. They even dedicated one of their songs to Celine Dion – just for the heck of it! By the end of their set, Beach House got the crowd head-banging and onto their feet. We were ready to party.
Introduced with rap beats blaring into the venue, Vampire Weekend humorously bounced onto the stage. By this time, I made my way to the front of the crowd. Looking behind me, the crowd grew ten-fold. No longer could I see people laying on the grass. There were just rows and rows of people standing behind me. Even outside the venue, people were lined around Stanley Park just to get a glimpse of the band.
Lead singer Ezra Koenig knew how to work the crowd, as if any work was needed in the first place. I may have even heard a few females swooning after every conversation he had with us (I’m not going to name names, but you know who you are). Cutie-patootie (dare I say it), Rostam Batmanglij, the talented multi-instrumentalist and sometimes vocalist, alternated from keyboards to guitar throughout the show. Drummer, Chris Tomson, was ripping it up in the back. The most enthusiastic out of all four, I could watch him play drums all day. Bassist, Chris Baio, was having his own little dance party hopping from his side of the stage to the other. I just wanted to go up there and dance with him.
Malkin Bowl was transformed into a dance-party hall. Nearly everyone knew every word, verse and chorus, to every song and it only took a couple of chords for the crowd to recognize which song they were going to hear and dance to.
The gents went back and forth playing songs from both their self-titled album and their sophomore album, Contra. Although A-Punk, Cousins, and Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa were crowd pleasers, each song performed that night rendered equal reactions from their dedicated fans.
For the entire week before the show, two songs were stuck in my head: Horchata and One (Blake’s Got a New Face). Both appropriately by Vampire Weekend. I was over-my-head excited, clenching tufts of hair on my head in my fists when they performed both songs. The spell-bounded crowd belted out the anthem “Blake’s Got a New Face” with force. I, too, joined in the silliness. The boys played two songs in their encore, ending with their apropos good-bye song, Walcott.
Their 75 minute show went by way too fast. You know what they say, time flies by when you’re having fun. Indeed, fun is what we had. At the end of the show, all the indie-hipsters spilled into Stanley Park and the streets of Vancouver with satisfied smiles on their faces. It was an unforgettable night, which bookended my Summer 2010 perfectly.
By the way, my friend ApuTheFish, filmed some of the Vampire Weekend songs that night. You can hear me bust out in “Horchata”; it’s quite embarrassing. Click the link to her Youtube page HERE to check it out. I know you wanna. (P.S. Don’t blame me if you get dizzy. It’s hard to film when you’re dancing about.)