Concert Review: Vampire Weekend, Horseshoe Tavern, Oct 8, 2009


Apparently, I’ve been asleep since 2007. At least, that’s the only way I can explain my completely missing the phenomenon of Vampire Weekend throughout 2008. Since I haven’t exactly been pulling my weight around here I’ve been voted to do the write-up despite being the least qualified to do so.

Once again, we missed the openers, the Postelles. From what I could tell off their MySpace page, they’re pretty good and remind me of a young Strokes.

Vampire Weekend, simply put, are adorable live. This is the second indie-rock-African-influenced band to come out of New York City in the last couple of years (the Dodos being the other) but VW are warmer and cuddlier – just the sort of boxed ska sunshine you like to hear on a cold rainy night. Their love for Toronto was pretty evident from the get-go – they packed the Horseshoe to the gills, massively selling out early. The place was filled with their hardcore fan base and I’ve yet to remember the last time I saw so much pogo-ing and singing-along.

It was a fun show and offered a sneak peak into their Contra album being put out by XL this January. The only suggestion that I can make in regards to their live performance–tell the drummer to simmer-the-fuck down! He was bashing and pummeling the holy hell out of everything, which made it difficult to hear anything else in balance. Eventually all I could hear were sharp searing drum beats, which is a shame considering Ezra Koenig’s vocal talent is there (a less raspy version of Hamilton Leithauser) and there is some great guitar / bass / organ work being done.

One thing I really appreciated about this show was how much Koenig engaged the audience with chatter. As I have mentioned before, this is often what makes a show intimate and memorable, and while veterans like Yo La Tengo certainly “get it”, it’s rare to see a band as young as this understand the importance of talking to your crowd. I do not think these guys were paying transparent flattering lipservice to Toronto either–I think they appreciate that they have a strong fanbase here and “feel the love”. I’m sure that if they bothered to set up a merch table, they would’ve paid for their whole tour in one shot.

Having had the time to check out their debut, Contra sounds like it’ll be satiating their fans’ palettes just fine. Some may think of the old adage, “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” here, and from what I can remember from last night’s set this holds true for their sophomore release.

Set list (from what I can remember, in no particular order)

Mansard Roof
Oxford Comma
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
One (Blake’s Got a New Face)
I Stand Corrected
The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance
Horchata (Contra)
Run (Contra)
Cousins (Contra)

If anyone else can fill in the blanks, feel free.

Posted on by Allison in Concerts, Everything

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5 Responses to Concert Review: Vampire Weekend, Horseshoe Tavern, Oct 8, 2009

  1. Mike

    The Dodos are from San Francisco, not NYC. You can tell by the evident lack of hipster douchebaggery and Pabst blue ribbon consumption.

  2. Allison

    Sorry Mike. My mistake. Is Pabst Blue Ribbon universally hated for morphing into a hipster beer? I’ve had it a few times in Kingston and once in Toronto. I guess it has the same connotations that Labatt 50 did in the 90’s?

  3. Ricky

    Allison knows PBR way too well.

  4. Allison


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