I never thought this would happen.
During “Blake’s Got A new Face” the ground is actually moving from the pounding drums.
For Vampire weekend???
Yep, this is VE Act II. With a superb album to back and on home turf for the first time since they played the Carnegie Hall Tibet gig nearly a year ago VE had nothing to prove but everything to show for their year recording Contra in the wilds of Los Angeles. Theyshowed it and how.
But first a bewilderingly set by Titus Andronicus. Towards the end Patrick Stickles promotes their gig in March at Bowery Ballroom: “If you like us come down and see us, if you don’t no big deal”. Huh?? This most caring of bands played the entire set with the same bafflingly offhandeness. I wrote about their opening number yesterday “Four Score And Seven”, putting it on as a high a level I could possibly iimagine. But that doesn’t mean I think they should open an opening set in a theatre to VW fans with it. Let me be plain: THEY SHOULDN’T. And the set went downhill from there.
Two new members are playing with the band for the first time tonight, Amy on violin and David on keybs, Wow, keybs??? Really!! I am sure it is not helping the show for right now whatever the payoff may well be later and I am equally sure the room is not typical for the band and I am positive the opening mistep has em lose a majority of the audience and they can’t get em back and after a coupla numbers they completely loose their intensity. Oh well, I know they’ll be brilliant on March 6th and I got to pick up a Titus tee for ten bucks.
You can tell if a band is on very early in a set. Halfway through the first song “White Sky”" I notice Ezra’s shirt is untucked. Oh good, it’s gonna kill and kill it does. I prefer Contra to the first album but even songs I haven’t much cared for in the past shine like wild diamonds (ugh! you know what I mean). The band doesn’t improvise, they haven’t widened their sound, they intensify untill it comes ant you in blasts of subtle yet hard sound. Playing behind a backdrop of their new album (that glassy eyed chick) and with two chandeliers hanging from the roof, the band attacks songs like “I Stand Corrected” and “The Kids Don’t Stand A chance” as though it’s the first time, they rip em up.
Better still is the new stuff. “Cousins” -one of their best songs ever, is an intricate roar, “Giving Up A Gun” features a lovely deep red light show, and both “Taxi Cab” and “Diplomat’s Son” are deeply felt slower songs which they manage to get all of. Particularly, I was impressed how they held firm control of the changing times and tempos of “Son”: it’s almost classical in the way it deals with movements and easy to slip on but it’s an absolute highlight.
“A-Punk” has the adoring audience dancing in their seats and the last song before the encore “Campus” seguing into “Oxford Comma” on a drum beat just like the KROQ gig only LOUD. So is the first song of the encore -a blow out “Horchata”. Then they roll out “Ottomon” from the Infinite Playlist movie before ending with “Mansard Roof” and “Wolcott”.
One complaint? They didn’t perform “I Think You’re A Contra”.
Ezra is in a sincerely excellent mood and the band were completely into it. Near the end Ezra says “This is the loudest we’ve ever played” and though they only played for an hour and twenty five minutes he also says “This is the longest we’ve ever played.” Fourteen months after their boring and just plain bad set at Terminal 5, Vampire Weekend have completely vindicated themselves. With last nights performance VW have learnt how to play live, how to take an audience and hold em in the palm of their hands. I wish I could get a tix to the other two shows.