Show Review: Vampire Weekend at the Fox Oakland, 4/19/10 and 4/20/10

by Marie Carney on April 21, 2010

Thanks to Flickr user Alloyous for the use of the picture

Vampire Weekend proved without a doubt at their two sold out shows at the Fox in Oakland that they are a strong band. I didn’t hear any mistakes either night. The drums, brought to you by C.T. (Chris Tomson) were solid, holding everything together. Chris Baio danced and played the bass masterfully. Rostam Batmanglij fleshed out the melody with keyboard and guitar and Ezra Koenig gave it all a focal point with his charm and strong vocals center stage. This was the third and fourth time I’d seen Vampire Weekend and I knew they could deliver a good show like this, but could they still surprise me?

Maybe. If I had only gone to one show. Both nights at the Fox were great, but with virtually the same setlist (only switching out “Bryn” for “Boston” on the second night) it was a bit strange and deja vu-y. Since this was the end of their American tour you would think they would bring out the big guns, maybe play a song with opener Abe Vigoda, or do a silly cover. But no. Just two solid sets from a great band. There are worse things in the world.

Admittedly, Abe Vigoda is not one of my favorite acts. Actually, that is the understatement of the century. I saw them play SXSW in 2008 and their 20 minute set felt like a million years. Can’t say their 30 minute sets the last two nights felt any different to me, but I feel a little guilty complaining about them because they didn’t do anything wrong. They seem to really care about what they are doing, it’s just… a total snooze fest for me. So maybe in the comments people can tell me what they think? I am curious to know if it really is just me. There are people I respect who really like this band. My highlight of their performance was the kid behind me saying “That bass line is really good” when lead singer Michael Vidal was playing the guitar. And no one else in the band was playing at the time… *facepalm*

How about we talk a little about the audience?  Now, I was on the floor both nights, so I don’t have a lot of perspective on this, but it was a YOUNG show.  I felt like I was surround by kids going to their first show, or maybe their second.  With that said, they were the politest teenagers I’ve ever been around.  Or maybe I’m just old and scary?  Because they just kept stepping out of the way as I pressed my way forward, despite all the big talk I overheard about how they planned to do the same thing.  The one disappointing thing about a crowd this young was their lack of energy, especially on Monday night.  About 1/3 of the audience was dancing.  To Vampire Weekend.  At a sold out show.  When I go to see a band I like as much as Vampire Weekend I am there to get as close to the stage as possible and dance like there’s no tomorrow, so being surrounded by still and disapproving bodies was disappointing.  I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt and say they were in awe of the band.  But really all I could think was that this must be a hard crowd to play to.

Ezra Koenig did his due diligence as a front-man to keep the audience engaged though.  He consistently looked around the audience, seeming to look people in the eye, keeping the atmosphere personal.  He taught us call and responses for some songs (M79, One and Horchata) and was encouraging when the response was awful on the first try (it was equally awful both nights, especially “Blake’s Got a New Face”).  He also gave suggestions like “If you wanted to pump your fist in the air, this next song would be a good time to do it” (A-Punk) and “This song is only 2 minutes long, so if you wanted to dance, you should be able to do it without getting too tired” (Mansard Roof).  Of course, some of the charm in these moments is lost when you see it two nights in a row… word for word…

In a way though, this is the greatest example of the band’s exactitude and professionalism.  They know that they have a show to bring to their fans, and they’re going to bring it every night.  And every night it’s going to be good.  There’s a lot to be said about a band who has the chops to pull that off.  It is wonderful to know that you can go see a band and they will sound good.  You can recommend them to your friends and know they won’t be disappointed.

Setlist from the 4/19 show:

And from 4/20:

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Vanessa Romero April 22, 2010 at 9:28 pm

That’s disappointing about the shows being the same both nights. I would have thought they would have played a cover song too. Ah well. But at least they do always put on a good show.

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