I have seen Vampire Weekend 5 times, all in pretty intimate setting, so I wasn’t too pleased seeing them at such a big venue such as United Palace Theater. I couldn’t get tickets to Bowery/Webster as they sold out instantly. I was in the back of the venue next to 40 year olds who didn’t move, sing, dance, or even care to be there. Ultra-lame! I wanted to be back at Bowery where everyone there knew all the lyrics by heart after studying the Blue-CDR for hours. There were moments during that album release party at Bowery where the crowd’s singing was practically louder than the band!!!!

I had to vent about the lameness of the crowd. I guess it had to be expected when they play a bigger venue for a bigger audience.

With all that behind us, I can finally talk about the bands performance. Considering it was the first time they played many of the Contra songs live (Ezra’s words!) the band sounded really comfortable with playing the songs.The only song that Vampire had problem getting straight was Diplomat’s Son which was understandably tough for them to get the timing straight! Otherwise, the new Contra tracks merged effortlessly into Vampire’s setlist. It seemed as though they have been playing the songs for their entire (short) career.

With songs like “White Sky”, this is partially true. I have seen that song every single time that I have seen them live so it literally has become a staple of their live set in my mind. You know what you are going to get when you see Chris Tomson jumping enthusiastically behind his drum set and that familiar backing track kicks in. The song has taken over Mansard Roof as the perfect opener to their setlist. Immediately the band kicks into Holiday & Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa getting the crowd pumped up. I really appreciate going to a Vampire Weekend live show because they really take care of their songs live. They will bring in a 4 person string orchestra in order to give M79 the true effect. I don’t know if it is because the song was written about NYC, but M79 has a special quality live that I’m pretty sure you can only get from their NYC shows!

“California English” works perfectly live, building and building to a fun climax that had me and my girlfriend dancing in our tight chair space, probably annoying the stiff old folks standing behind me. They shredded through “Cousins” and then slowed things down with “Taxi Cab” where Chris Baio played an upright bass while Chris Tomson pounding an electronic drum pad. From there the band didn’t look back running through “Run” (you see what I did there?) and a slew of Vampire Weekend classics like “A-Punk”, “One”, and “Kids” that had most of the crowd singing along.

Not surprisingly the crowd ate up the older songs singing back all the lyrics with enthusiasm. Most of the crowd around my seating area didn’t seem too familiar with the Contra songs, which was rather disappointing. I think I was one of the only people in my entire section who knew “Ottoman”, let alone singing along! That was a special treat, and I was pretty grateful that they brought it back to their live sets! The entire setlist was a treat, as it was Vampire Weekend’s longest set of their entire career. They played practically every song in their discography aside from I Think UR A Contra, Bryn, Boston (which was heartbreaking to not hear!!), and some more b-sides. They made sure every fan left happy, and got the most for their money.

I had a lot of fun at their show, but sadly it was probably my least favorite gig of theirs. I am not even talking about a loss of intimacy. That was expected as the band got bigger. I was talking about a really lame crowd that didn’t move. Not many people sung, or even seemed to really be a Vampire Weekend fan. You don’t need to know the lyrics word for word or anything, but at least pretend to want to be there! I’m sure there are thousands of you that would have gladly taken their place!

Hopefully the next time I catch them, the crowd will be a lot better! But, maybe I will be quick enough to catch them at a more intimate venue!

Setlist (Thank god for my phones notepad feature!)  :

White Sky
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
I Stand Corrected
California English
Taxi Cab
One (Blake’s Got A New Face)
Kids Don’t Stand A Chance
Diplomat’s Son
Giving Up The Gun
Oxford Comma


Mansard Roof

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