Last night, I saw Vampire Weekend play a sold out show at Terminal 5 in New York City. Seeing a concert was one of the things on my 27 Things To Do While I’m 27 list (a list which I’m proud to say, is being completed with due diligence!), and since I haven’t been to a show in a really long time, I jumped at the chance. Vampire Weekend’s debut cd is the most recent cd I’ve loved enough to completely kill; I listened to it on repeat from the beginning of August through the beginning of October.
I met up with Irma for empanadas before the show, and we walked to Terminal 5 in a light rain, which was kind of annoying. Once we got inside, the beer I had was the kind that tastes unusually good, a spectacular reward after a long walk in the rain followed by waiting in a hipster-filled line outside the venue. It didn’t, however, make the opening band, a strange duo named Telepathe whose set was all electronic and drum machine and strange keening noises, sound any better.
We knew the show was sold out, and decided to check out the balconies overlooking the main floor to see what the view was like. We parked ourselves on the third floor balcony, almost directly overlooking the stage, quite possibly the coolest place to watch a show I’ve been in. Granted, we only got those front row balcony spots because no one else wanted to have their eardrums blasted out by the giant, hulking speakers four feet to our left, but OH MAN it was so worth it.
Vampire Weekend’s set was so perfect. They played most of their album, which made me so happy (although was unsurprising, seeing as how they only have one album anyway). The album itself is very upbeat and full-sounding, so I didn’t expect it to sound better, per se, in person. But it did. Somehow, the sound was fuller and just MORE. Or maybe my proximity to the giant speaker just caused it to reverberate around in my skull. We sang every word to every song right along with the sold-out crowd. If you have not experienced this, I highly recommend it. There’s something about that feeling, feeling like you are so there with a few thousand other people that is unlike any other. Kind of like being at a baseball game, just with bouncing around and screaming at the top of your lungs until your voice is hoarse.
My best description of their music is that it is reminiscent of Paul Simon’s Graceland album, combined with a little Guster and a little pure indie wittiness. They played a few new songs, which didn’t feature the keyboards, but rather more guitar. The lyrics were predictably strange and fun, of course ramping up my expectations for their second album, whenever that may be released. All four of them are beyond adorable, dancing maniacally around the stage, looking a bit 80s, a bit Kirk Cameron or Tom Cruise in Cocktail, all shaggy hair and sensible button-down shirts. The absolute best songs, though, were the ones they played with the string section. I have to be honest and say that I didn’t notice the strings so much on the album, but wow did that add something wonderful to the live sound.
While I probably need to work on my ability to describe music well, the bottom line is that this was one of the best shows I’ve ever seen. My expecations were high, and they were exceeded somehow. I sort of wish I could go see them again on Saturday. I suppose I’ll instead have to put the cd back in my car and listen to it on repeat for another few weeks. Oh darn.