Vampire Weekend get the Orpheum bouncing

A review of WFNX Miracle on Tremont

, Staff Writer

WFNX concluded its two-night Miracle On Tremont Street, a pair of concerts held at the Orpheum Theatre, this past Sunday with a rousing performance by Vampire Weekend. The theatre was filled with the sorts one would expect to be fans of the group, bushy beards and flannel shirts littering the fully-packed seating area, talks of Pavement’s potential ten-year reunion and fawning over Beach House popping up more than once before the band took stage. Once they did, however, the indie banter immediately stopped and all attention focused on what would prove to be an extremely entertaining set by the Columbia graduates.

Vampire Weekend brought the unique and insanely fun punk/Afro-pop/really-indie sound of their first album to live fruition this evening. In hasty style they brought out "I Stand Corrected", a simple tune that nonetheless set the energy levels are very high for the rest of the set, bassist Chris Baio kinda bouncing but also kinda swaying, occasionally leaning back on his heels until you thought he was going to fall over. Rostam Batmanglij on keyboards added perfect synthesized blips in harmony, providing a bouncy pad on top of which the rest of the band could play.

As an ensemble, Vampire Weekend are incredibly tight, finding their grooves with deft precision. They never really deviated that far from their studio sound but, given how successful the self-titled debut was, you can’t really fault them for that. The shorter song lengths did well to keep things going, and the momentum of the performance never once dropped.

The band continued with a performance of "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa", which just has to remind you of something out of Paul Simon’s Graceland, thin and quickly-moving guitar lines while everything bounces around it. I was half-expecting Ladysmith Black Mambazo to walk on-stage and add some vocal layering to the whole thing. Of course, drawing any comparison to Graceland means you’re probably doing something right, and the crowd just loved it, Ezra Koenig’s falsetto flying over of everything, the entire audience out of their seats and dancing.

The band was kind enough to give the audience a few B-sides as well, clearly so they could have an excuse to play "Ladies of Cambridge" for the local crowd. As we know, the mere mention of anything related to Boston gets the girls swooning and the fellows nodding in appreciation and, in spite of Koenig asserting that they are definitely from New York, everyone still went nuts when he sang "I’ve had dreams of Boston all my life."

It’s hard to not have stage presence when your music is as appealing and catchy as is that of Vampire Weekend, and though the guys aren’t exactly very striking physically when they’re up on the stage (they’re barely out of college, after all), they nonetheless did a great job of getting the crowd riled up. The guys are all dancing up on the stage, clearly enjoying having all eyes on them and loving the idea of playing the music they have such passion for. It’s nice to see a new band in this regard – they haven’t been jaded in the slightest, and seem to be getting their kicks in before the inevitable industry forces start to change that. Koenig engaged in banter after nearly every song, be it providing some background, commenting on the attractiveness of the crowd (I’m sure he says that to all his concert dates), or having a brief back-and-forth between the other members of the band. It’s great to see such enthusiasm from such a young group, and this can only mean we have even higher-quality releases to look forward to in the future.

The end of the set was highlighted first by "Campus", a well-composed though somewhat melancholy song, and its polar opposite, "Walcott", which was probably the poppiest, bounciest song of the evening (and that’s saying something), characterized by Batmanglij’s deep and persistent pounding on his keyboard, and Koenig’s trilling all over the place on his poor guitar. It was a perfect way to end an evening that made you wonder if they would ever hit a ceiling. It turns out they didn’t, and the crowd clamored for more even after the encore. Unfortunately, all good things must end, and Vampire Weekend closed up shop for that evening. The set was a bit short, clocking in at a little over an hour, but we can forgive them because a) they have a relatively small catalogue and b) they were just really damn good at playing what they did. This is a band that certainly deserves the press they are receiving, and if all goes well their sophomore effort will be just as pleasant as their first one has proved to be.

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