Vampire Weekend at Orpheum Theatre, 8/5/13

Categories: Last Night
Tony Nelson
Vampire Weekend
Orpheum Theatre, Minneapolis
Monday, August 5, 2013

Vampire Weekend are not a sentimental band. We should know this already, of course. It's plain to see in their music, and frankly, they're too successful to waste their time with such middling emotions. But as the New Yorkers returned to Minneapolis last night for a visit to the Orpheum Theatre -- a show that frontman Ezra Koenig called, in his own self-satisfied manner, their "best-ever in Minnesota" -- they let it slip all over again.

"This is a nice place," Koenig said at one point between songs. He looked up toward the balcony, taking stock of his surroundings, and singled out the overhead chandelier as particularly impressive. "Every time we come back," he added with a smirk, "we keep moving up."

See Also:
Slideshow: Vampire Weekend at Orpheum Theatre
Vampire Weekend play crowd-pleasing set to a packed First Avenue
Vampire Weekend and the accelerated speed of cool

What went unsaid was that, on their last visit, the band played at First Avenue -- you know, the House the Prince Built? Then again, this is no matter to Koenig. The next time he's back in town, it'll probably be at the Target Center -- and, like it or not, he'll deserve to be there. Or, at any rate, he'll have earned it.

Strictly speaking, there are a lot of reasons to hate a person's music. Take Kanye West, for instance -- a guy so egomaniacal that lots of people can't help but hope he fails. Or take R. Kelly, someone whose personal failings can make it difficult -- maybe even wrong -- to support, much less enjoy, his music. And then there's a band like Vampire Weekend, whose polo shirts and smug demeanor smack of the sort of privilege and condescension that fly in the face of what rock music is supposed to be about.

Tony Nelson
Tony Nelson
Their fans, though, just plain love it. In fact, from the moment that "Cousins" set the energy crackling -- an energy that barely dipped thereafter -- the crowd at the Orpheum was about as enthusiastic as you'll see. They sang along to the words, they danced in front of their seats, cheered during the breakdowns, and pumped their fists to the choruses. There was never a moment when the whole room wasn't fully behind what was happening onstage. It was almost as if there were real rock stars up there, not some waspish Ivy leaguers with expensive haircuts and fresh white kicks.

But that's just the thing: Regardless of how you feel about the music, Vampire Weekend are a very good band. Not many others can put on as good of a show as they do, one that's technically excellent, backed up with great songwriting, and, most importantly, good showmanship. What's more, they're fully aware of the stereotypes they've arguably created for themselves, so they lay it on thick -- much the same way that their haters will only inspire more references to Benetton and horchatas.

Koenig, in particular, was in complete control. He knew exactly where he was in own his physical space, and he seemed to anticipate every twist and turn of the show with a flip of his hair or an arch pose. He even affected an Elvis impression with his vocal during "Diane Young." (What, you don't think of Ezra as a sex symbol?) These things can be learned, perhaps, but still, not everyone has them.

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