Originally published to The New University on April 23, 2013
Thanks to Coachella, I was fortunate enough to catch a week’s worth of bands. While in town, musical artists playing at the music festival will make an appearance at various venues in SoCal to play for some who might not have been able to make it out to Coachella (such as myself) or even possibly for those who wanted to watch a band at the same time as another band’s set. In this case, Vampire Weekend chose the Fox Theater in Pomona to do this on the night of Thursday, April 18.
Tanlines opened the show with a funk/beach/synth set, hyping the crowd with merely a set of drums, guitars and the vocal accompaniment. As opposed to the usual bore of an audience during an opening act, this was quite the opposite. In my place in the middle of the venue, I could see heads bobbing and bodies moving all in front, and let me tell you, for a 5-feet tall young lady, this is something worth noting.
After the usual obnoxious half hour of moving in between sets, Vampire Weekend came on with a hilarious, uplifting instrumental piece that could be compared to the “Chariots of Fire” theme song. The song of anticipation was justifiable: the band had not released an album since January of 2010 (“Contra”). The crowd was roaring non-stop.
Something I noticed about the crowd was the age group. It seemed as if Vampire Weekend’s fan base had certainly grown up; we were all in high school or our first couple years of college during their last album. It seemed as if us reliable fans had grown up while waiting for a new album to come out, and it was apparent that nobody under the age of 18 was in the audience. Let’s admit it: Vampire Weekend is not completely relevant to today’s popular music at the moment. However, they are soon to make a comeback on May 10 with the release of “Modern Vampires of the City.”
Anyhow, following the instrumental introduction came “Cousins,” a bright and loud opening that caused the entire crowd to become a wave of bobbing heads and moving feet. This was also seen with the members of the band, as Ezra Koenig, lead singer and guitarist, seemed to dance through each song with his classical guitar and an entertaining swagger. He swayed back and forth and walked all over the stage as if he didn’t care where he would end up by the end of a song. Chistopher Baio, bassist, was the complete opposite; it appeared that he had a set of coordinated moves that he had been working on throughout the band’s touring history. Let’s just say that leg-jive type movements were a part of the whole shebang, and it was wholly appreciated by us audience members.
The stage was incredibly and elaborately set up. With the theme of “modern vampires” came these large stone pillars hanging from the stage that had lights attached to them; the stage lit up throughout the entire set with shades of purple, red, yellow and voltages of strobe lights throughout the faster paced songs like “A-Punk” and “Giving Up the Gun.” Midway through the set the white sheet hanging as a backdrop fell, revealing a floral one that was characteristic of a Gilly Hicks shopping bag, pardon the reference. Lastly, a mirror hanging in the middle of the backdrop would project images throughout each song that were characteristic of the themes they were conveying. This ranged from fallen chandeliers to, oddly enough, a bust of a statue, looking and “judging” the band and audience.
Vampire Weekend played three songs from the upcoming album — “Steps,” “Diane Young,” and “Ya-Hey” — all of which were received with enthusiasm by the audience. “Steps” and “Ya-Hey” are reflective of their sound, whereas “Diane Young” is a little more rock ‘n’ roll sounding and edgy; red lights accompanied the song.
Overall, Vampire Weekend kept the show high-energy, constantly thanking fans for keeping the set alive and cheering whenever an instrumental break ensued during songs. Closing, as always, with “Walcott,” Vampire Weekend set the audience for a great comeback to follow.