Vampire Weekend play crowd-pleasing set to a packed First Avenue
|Photo by Terry Filsetti Yoshinaga|
Koenig joked that "dancing is not easy, that's a given...for me. At least shake an ankle to this one" before the band played a spirited version of "A-Punk" that was another of the night's highlights. He also referenced the bands previous visit to Minneapolis, a buzzed-about performance at the Triple Rock almost exactly two years ago that I was fortunate enough to attend. While the show was a good one, it was only a 40-minute set. Thankfully, the band have expanded their set a bit, and delivered a 75-minute, 18-song set that was worthy of a headliner. I was intrigued by the direction VW took their sound on "Diplomat's Son," using a sampled loop effectively over a middle eastern rhythm and bouncy, staccato melody. The band was experimenting on this one, stepping outside the comfort zone that most of their songs easily reside in, and it was a sprawling, intriguing revelation. Hopefully the band takes more chances like this in the future, for it certainly caught my attention. "Giving Up The Gun" continues this theme of adventurous sonic experimentation, and I was disappointed that it unfortunately went unplayed during the set.
Koenig teased a few strains of "Purple Rain" before dedicating "Campus" to "anyone in school" (loud cheers), "especially graduate school (hardly any cheers)." "Campus" flowed right into the dynamic main set closer "Oxford Comma," which found the crowd and Koenig alike yelling fuck at the top of their lungs. It's a fun song, as are most of Vampire Weekend's material, and clearly the crowd was elevated by the proceedings. I just was (perhaps mistakenly) looking for something deeper with a bit more heart. I didn't find it on the first song of their encore, the rather insipid "Horchata," which nonetheless resonated well with the crowd, who have obviously grown quite familiar with the overplayed song over the last couple of months. "Mansard Roof" breezed by quickly, before the band ended the show with the customary fervor of "Walcott," which really is impossible not to love. It's such an ebullient song, and really ended the night strongly and left everyone smiling as they left the club. I'm curious as to the direction Vampire Weekend choose to take their sound in the future, and perhaps a change in direction will engross me a bit more. But with a run of success that VW have been on as of late, and with packed houses awaiting them in every city, why would they even bother messing with a formula that is obviously working?