If Vampire Weekend fans had a case of the Mondays at the 9:30 Club the past two nights, then they were delighted out of that funk and transported to, well, brace for cliché…the weekend.
Taking the stage Monday night against a large canvas banner of their January 2008 self titled album “Vampire Weekend,” the four band members looked shockingly youthful. Dressed in their trademark prepster style, there was tremendous display of plaid, three of four musicians donned tartan shirts, and the drummer, always edgy, rocked a tie dye shirt.
The band’s two night stint at the 9:30 Club marked their first DC performance since a February concert at the Rock and Roll Hotel. This DC performance gap is particularly ironic given keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij’s metro area roots; for Batmanglij, who had strong crowd support, playing this venue must have been surreal, as one of his first concerts, Sigur Ros, was at the 9:30. In one of the brief set pauses Batmanglij admitted that he had seen another act prior to Sigur Ros but was too embarrassed to share the name with the crowd. Hanson, perhaps?
With only the one released album, the concert was naturally short; however, to round out the track filled set lead singer Ezra Koenig channeled his inner Stevie Nicks with a cover of Fleetwood Mac’s “Everywhere.” The song’s melodic keyboard, steady drum beat and Koenig’s Paul Simon-esque vocals emitted a distinct early 80s vibe and the crowd, mostly unfamiliar with the 1987 hit, easily sang the chorus and quickly found the rhythm.
That’s the appeal of this band. You feel like despite however bad your singing voice or dance moves may be, you’re willing to rock, belt out the lyrics and bust a move. There won’t be that person at the concert next to you with that “please stop singing along, you’re ruining the concert for me” look, and if there is then you don’t even notice them. You’re there. With the band. It’s you and them. That’s not to say that anyone could be lead or second vocals or even a backup singer for VW. For one, I’m pretty sure we fans probably don’t sound as good as we think we do. And two, despite their on stage camaraderie and playful demeanor these guys are one tight band that doesn’t just project music at people, it engages them.
A great example of this was the DC debut of their new song “White Sky.” Koenig ceded guitar lead to vocal partner Batmanglij, and belted out this clearly “Graceland” inspired tune. Perhaps, a dedicated few had heard this track on YouTube, but for the rest of us were left drooling as drummer Chris Tomson and bassist Chris Baio, intro-ed Batmanglij’s magical guitar plucking, while Koenig’s chanted the lyrics and performed typical white kid dance moves. By mid song, fans were bopping to the rhythm and hooting out the strange yet expressive chorus. If “White Sky” or “Ottoman” from the Nick and Nora’s Infinite Playlist soundtrack are any indication of what’s to come on Vampire’s rumored fall 2009 album, then we’re all in for a treat.
In one of his final crowd commentaries, Koenig cracked that perhaps during their next visit they’d be so lucky as to play at the Merriweather Post Pavilion, which got a laugh from the crowd. However, I’m not sure if he was serious or mocking the Maryland venue; I only hope it won’t be another 10 months before they’re back.