Vampire Weekend – Father of The Bride 2019
Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory – Irving, TX – August 16, 2019 | Words and Photos by Cassie Preston
I might as well just get my unpopular opinion out of the way in the beginning before we go on to our concert experience . Vampire Weekend’s latest album, Father of the Bride? Not a big fan. With a hefty 18 song track list, it’s probably about five songs too long. But their premiere and self titled album? Amazing. Contra? Yes. Modern Vampires of the City? So good. The New York City band has a palate cleansing sound by mixing unlikely instruments, rhymes and otherwise strange lyrics together. One would think it would just become a jumbled mess. Imagine a toddler sitting on the kitchen floor, babbling strange noises, banging pots and pans with a wooden spoon … but older. Luckily for us, the musicians are skilled in their craft and tight with the other members so the band operates seamlessly.
I mean, have you ever listened to the harsh piano opening of Walcott? Go for it. It’s only like 25 seconds long but it’s weird and awesome, you’ll be able to understand the band’s funky appeal (we will circle back to Walcott later, by the way) right away. As if their band name and sound isn’t strange enough, what they sing about is equally unusual. With subject matters ranging from grammatical punctuation (Oxford Comma), to finding love in a Falafel Shop (Finger Back) to a girl having the luck of a Kennedy (Diane Young) makes the audience wonder if the band draws inspiration from even the smallest of moments.
I’m in the garage floor elevator, going down to the show when a group comes in and as the door closes they ask what songs we most want to hear. Diplomat Son is my answer … but – I know – it’s a tough one to perform live. Unsurprisingly to me, the amount of equipment is sprawling across the stage. Multiple guitars, one piano, a keyboard, two drum sets and I can assure you, Vampire Weekend will use all of it. The band is performing underneath a giant, green and blue globe with demure white lights creating this halo effect behind it. The lights go down and Vampire Weekend takes the stage with front man, Ezra Koenig sporting embroidered shorts with the circular snake off the Father of the Bride album artwork. In tow he has two guitarists, two pianists and two drummers. I know that the band isn’t going to be doing any sort of insane moves on stage because their music is way too complex for those kind of shenanigans.
Vampire Weekend starts off strong with the most upbeat song off their most recent album, Bambina. The band works backwards to Unbelievers, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa and Holiday. It appears to me that the band has decided to evenly perform their music over four studio albums.
Vampire Weekend jumps back into more recent music with the quirky beginning of Sunflower. The lights bathe the stage and crowd in magenta and the large globe slowly begins to turn. The songs ends and transitions to a “Guitar-Off” between Brian Robert Jones (newest member) and Koenig, the lighting transitioning into a deep red. I’ll be honest, I’m not sure who won. But, I’m just going to say it was us … the audience.
“So how you feelin’, Dallas?”, Koenig asks. There is an absolute roar from the crowd and he pauses for us. “It’s been a very long time since we’ve been here.” I know, because I was there … six years ago. “It must have been five or six years ago,” Koenig idly strums his guitar (*squeee*). He pauses, “How about Denton before that?” and the girl next to me hollars. Damn, girl. Okay, you beat me. Another newcomer to the band, Greta Morgan, lends not only her keyboard talents but also guitar and angelic voice to compliment Koenig’s ballad during Hold You Now. The next song’s opening line rings out, “Who gives a fuck about an Oxford Comma?” (because really, who does?) and the girl next to me leans in, “This was the first song I heard by them.” Strangely (and I don’t understand this … unless … they have a powerful encore planned *foreshadowing*) ended with Don’t Dream It Over by … Crowded House. Despite an array of age groups … I guess, you always have to appeal to the chaperones at these shows. Vampire Weekend exits the stage and we wait.
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
I Stand Corrected
New Dorp. New York (SBTRKT)
Hold You Now
Don’t Dream It Over (Crowded House)
Finger Back (request)
The band comes back for their encore. In the middle of Mansard Roof’s groovy piano, flags printed with various Father of the Bride emblems drop from the top of the stage. See? They never really meant to leave us. The band breaks for a moment, “Dallas …” Keonig says smiling. “You seem like you still have energy. And we have been gone so long … so, we are doing our best to take requests.” DIPLOMAT SON. Keonig chooses one lone individual in the Sea of Stand Room Only and he is my only hope. Unfortunately, he goes sideways on me and requests Finger Back. Not a “bad” choice but certainly not the “right” one. As the song ends, Keonig pants, “That’s one of the harder ones to perform live.” Vampire Weekend ends the night strong with Walcott. Remember that song you should listen to the first 25 seconds of? It’s time for you to do that, now.
Vampire Weekend is a band that shouldn’t make sense outside of an Urban Outfitters. But the thing is, they do. The musicians know their instruments, their craft and – despite new additions – know one another’s strength & weaknesses. And because of that, Vampire Weekend is just a group of performers who are successful when conventional music says they shouldn’t be. Furthermore, the band knows their audience; from the girl seeing them roughly ten years ago in a dark, college town bar to myself who has been waiting for another tour. Thank you so very much for two hours with 10 years of music. I hope Dallas sees you sooner rather than later.
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