Vampire Weekend, Live Show at Amoeba SF

Posted by The Bay Area Crew, February 3, 2008 08:25pm | Post a Comment
reviewed by Katy St. Clair

It's not often that a band whose first album was only a day old can pack Amoeba to the gills for their in-store, but Vampire Weekend did it.

The store looked like the Fillmore, with a sea of faces all looking towards the four-piece band from New York. "It's a privilege to be here," said the singer, Ezra Koenig, somewhat shyly. The band was wearing the look of most young new "buzz bands" who haven't quite accepted the fact that they have made it yet—a naïve sweetness combined with an out and out thrilled exuberance.

We were seeing them at a choice time, a day after their first record was released, and on the same evening that they would be appearing on the David Letterman Show.

There are a lot of labels put on this band (another thing they are going to have to get used to). One is that they are "preppy," which is probably due to the fact that they all met at an Ivy League school, but, judging from the footwear of Koenig, who was wearing Docksiders, it could also be due to their personal style.

 They also get pegged with an African-Indie rock association, due to the intentional fact that their guitar is tuned to a key used in a lot of African music, something that Paul Simon and David Byrne have both used to great effect. (The music is actually nod to Congolese soukous music.) The band consider themselves "Upper West Side Soweto."

The band first launched into "Mansard Roof," the first track from their album. The song is jumpy and alive, and If there was one word that came to mind, well two words, really, they would be "tippie-toe."
The singer stood on his while he sang and played, bob-bobbing up and down, but lightly as if he didn't want to break the eggshells underneath. It took awhile for the crowd to loosen up, and even Koenig
noted that only one person was jumping up and down in the audience. Guess they aren't use to SF's famously stoic audiences.

His inquiry seemed to grease some wheels, however, and eventually the audience was verifiably raucous, singing and dancing along.

an eligaic organ that gives everything a '60s feel before it jumps back into the bands' unique From Mausaud they performed "Compass" and then "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa," which begins with "neo-Television/Graceland" sound. What really saves the band from veering to close to cutesy indie rock pop is the drummer Christopher Tomson, who hits the skins extremely hard and providing a pummeling backdrop. He even broke both of his drumsticks at the instore, which wasn't a surprise. Koenig quipped that he broke them "cuz its his favorite record store."

From there they went into the ska-ish "A-Punk." If the singer can be said to be doing a "tippie toe" thing, than the bassplayer does his own little box step in time to the music. As he played he stepped
 forward-side –back-side-forward-side-back-side… By the time they began playing "Bryn" everyone was sweaty, the dancers up front were slithering and jumping up and down, arms in the air.

Vampire Weekend's Last song was "Oxford Comma," about, of course, where to put a comma in a sentence, and the blazing controversy that surrounds such things. Where do you pause, and where do you continue on? Where do you go from here? It was a good coda for Vampire Weekend, and a good coda to the evening.

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Katy St. Clair (5), Vampire Weekend (13)