On The List :: Vampire Weekend @ Webster Hall [1.18.10]

This review runs on Bowery's Houselist Blog.

The four boys of Vampire Weekend took the stage at Webster Hall with an enormous screen-printed cover of their latest album, Contra hanging behind them. The face of the anonymous blond from Contra's 50-foot high cover art stared ominously out at the crowd. The band smiled winningly and immediately waltzed into "White Sky," an amphetamine-angle on a chord progression from Paul Simon's "Under African Skies." If it was a night of influences, it was also a homecoming; an ode to all the chosen parts that made album art stand five stories high.

It would be a set of contradictions; half drawn from their eponymous debut album and the other from their six-day old sophomore effort. From the outset when the band ripped through, "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa," "M79" and stand-out live track, "Cousins," it was clear that keyboardist, Rostam Batmanglij wasn't entirely together, holding a 10-mile stare and looking overheated and frankly not sober. He, along with front man, Ezra Koenig and bassist, Chris Baio all dressed in blue, checkered dress shirts, in the kind of gesture that is either hilariously planned or embarrassingly accidental. In the dead middle, the band played the haunting "Taxi," lit from below, casting huge shadows on the face of their album art. It was impossible not to think of these four as shadow giants, both legitimately enormous and completely inflated in the light of their new celebrity.

After the equally spot-on "Diplomat's Son," Koenig thanked the crowd for joining the band on, "this odyssey of growing up." The band then played the opening to "Giving Up The Gun," a meditation on modernism and the loss of innocence in the face of flux. Of course, as much as Vampire Weekend is different than the band we saw three years ago, they still close with "Walcott," at the end of their encore. It was a song of departure for a band just arriving. In the city that bore them, an unflinching, five-story stare hung in the background and shadows shuffled off to stage right.

Listen :: Vampire Weekend - "Horchata"

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