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A&E

Coachella Week: 5 observations from Vampire Weekend’s Cosmo set

April 12, 2013 at Boulevard Pool

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Vampire Weekend’s catchy dance-pop had a Cosmopolitan pool crowd bouncing on April 12.
Photo: Erik Kabik/Retna/erikkabik.com
Jason Harris

1. The backlash against Vampire Weekend still boggles my mind. The internet propelled the band to fame before it ever released its self-titled debut album in 2008, and more traditional critics seem to resent that, forgetting the reasons the bloggers hyped them so big was because they have a unique sound (that has since been mimicked often) combining well-crafted pop rock with world music influences. Haters be damned: VW puts on a lock-tight show, each member fully in sync, creating a night full of dance-pop fun.

2. The 15-song set paid due attention to all three VW albums—six songs from Vampire Weekend, five from Contra (2010) and four from the upcoming Modern Vampires of the City. Smash hits “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” and “Holiday” had the crowd chanting along. An energetic encore featuring “One (Blake’s Got a New Face),” “Mansnard Roof” and “Walcott” sent fans home happy.

3. The new songs are full of promise that the new album will continue in the world pop evolution of the band, especially including African and Latin beats. “Ya Hey” has a refrain that people will either be hated or will leave listeners no choice but to sing along. “Diane Young,” seemingly the first single, is a dense pop construction featuring another sing-along breakdown and a bevy of different sounds and modulations, making the most of its close to three-minute run time. “Unbelievers” is the most traditional, straight-up indie rock song of the bunch. And “Steps” is the most interesting, sampling the classical masterpiece “Pachabel’s Canon in D” and giving it a musical energy drink. This is one you will probably hear on commercials or on movie soundtracks for the next two years.

4. Drummer Cris Tomson does strong work, creating intense and fast fills on both the conventional drum set and a drum pad. Singer Ezra Koening’s voice sounds as good live as it does on record and his guitar riffs mid-song keep things moving at quick pace. However, there was little interaction with the crowd, nothing making this gig special from a solid rehearsal session. The audience was very enthusiastic and some more give-and-take would have done the group well.

5. Most disappointing was the short 65-minute set time. Recent sets from VW have included up to 19 songs. Why were we deprived out of four songs? I don’t think it was a casino curfew issue as the band was wrapped before 11:30 p.m. I’ll never understand bands that headline Vegas and don’t leave it all out there, but this is a sad trend that’s been happening (partially because of curfews) for the last year. There’s too much history here not to bring everything you got.

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