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Monday, September 30, 2013

Show Review: Vampire Weekend @ The Hollywood Bowl

Vampire Weekend front man Ezra Koenig

Show Review:
 Vampire Weekend
@ The Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles CA.

  It seems like the most appropriate way to describe Vampire Weekend is in terms of their popularity.  2 million Facebook fans, 67 million last fm plays total,  45,000 listeners last week, #40 on the Last FM Top 500 Artist Chart.  Sold out show at the Hollywood Bowl.  Perhaps the only qualifier is that the show only sold out 24 hours prior to show time, and that Vampire Weekend, unlike say, Depeche Mode, did not have a multiple night stand at a similarly sized venue.

 Billed as "America's Largest Natural Ampitheatre," the Hollywood Bowl has a seating capacity of 18,000 and ample grounds surrounding the theater, with a food court of dining and merchandise purchasing options.  Those in attendance looked like they had been sent from central casting to represent the diversity of America's well-to-do upper middle class in Southern California.

       One might reasonably expect that the audience for Vampire Weekend to be somewhat less diverse then it actually was.  Included in the Audience were many young children who appeared to genuinely enjoy the show and knew the music.  A 6 or 7 year old girl in front of me videotaped THE ENTIRE show on a tablet type device.  A group of high school girls seated three rows up relentlessly practiced the art of self portraiture or "selfies" as the Oxford English Dictionary calls them, using the flash function on their smart phones at least 20 times during the set of opening act Beirut.  Across the aisle, a group of college age women had among their number a young woman wearing a sedate Hijab, or Islamic headscarf.

  Behind me, an ethnically diverse couple of young professionals sang and dance in the aisles. As I strolled between sections of the amphitheater during the headlining set, I saw young and old, couples and groups of singles, representatives of all the major ethnicities of Southern California, and all of them- ALL OF THEM- looked extremely excited to be seeing Vampire Weekend live.

 The performance itself can be summarized in a brief epigram, "Vampire Weekend delivers."   To be properly considered an epigram, of course, that statement can't simply refer to the live performance.  Rather, Vampire Weekend delivers across the board with a remarkably sensitive consistency that marks them as one of the leading rock bands of the here and now.  Simply to put them in a class with other top 50 rock band on the Last FM Top Artist Chart: Artic Monkeys (1), Coldplay (4), Radiohead (6), Kings of Leon, Muse, Imagine Dragons, The Killers, Arcade Fire, The Black Keys, Mumford and Sons- this is a chart that looks at total numbers of listeners on Last FM on a weekly basis.

 I suppose you could make a plausible argument for Radiohead, Arcade Fire and perhaps the Black Keys, but for my money Vampire Weekend is the coolest out of the class of Top 50 worldwide rock bands.   They do their thing with a minimum of controversy and ego, eschewing misguided attempts to change the economics of music (Radiohead), insanely pretentious and bizarre lyrical themes (Muse), and being Coldplay (Coldplay) in favor of just doing their fucking job ok?

  At the Red Bull funded after part at the hotel bar at the Chateaus Marmont (this is as supposed to the Bar Marmont, which I believe is a stand alone venue next door to the Hotel.)  I came face to face with Vampire Weekend front man/songwriter Ezra Koenig and was impressed at his coolness.  He has the looks of a matinee idol, the skin of a fashion model.  He stood quietly in the midst of well wishers, politely nodding and responding to the conversation. He very easily could have been a label executive or a&r rep, a lawyer, a doctor. Koenig does not channel the frenzy of Bacchus for his art, rather his is the classicism of a Roman orator, weaving rhetoric together in an attempt (succeful) to charm the masses.

  In another day and time, Koenig would have been a priest or perhaps a magician.  Today he is a rock star.  If you are someone who seeks to deny Koenig and Vampire Weekend their due, you are someone will never succeed in the music industry, because if you don't get Vampire Weekend, you don't get the music business.   Keep your eyes closed if you must, but please no tears, this is Vampire Weekends world and we all just live in it.

1 comment:

by Mario S. said...

I remember a show years back right before Vampire Weekend blew up. They let Grand Ole Party open because it was SD (and I think they were on tour with them) I had no clue who they were and they were really good.

Also Ezra showed up to sing with Fucked Up when they did a 12 hour show in NYC. Sang some really old school punk songs. Respect.

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