Show Review: Vampire Weekend with Beach House and The Very Best at The Greek Theater, 9/25/10

by Marie Carney on September 26, 2010

The audience does the official "Mansard Roof" dance

It was a beautiful night at the Greek Theater, warm and clear, something that hardly ever happens in my experience.  For my fourth time seeing Vampire Weekend this year, it was yet to be seen if this show would be something different, or more of the same.  Either way I was sure to not be disappointed.

The show opened with the band The Very Best.  When you name yourself The Very Best, you’re immediately setting a high standard for yourself. So what are they best at? At having a DJ play previously recorded tracks while the singer throws out dance moves reminiscent of Daler Mehndi’s while doing his best not too sing too loudly because the backing tracks sound better. The crowd enjoyed them enough, but I found them a bit irritating, and a poor table setter for the evening. In a club setting, I’d be dancing and waving my arms like nobody’s business, but in the expanse of the Greek Theater, the energy was lost on me.

Beach House came on stage to surprisingly loud cheers for an opening band, or at least it was surprising to me.  They brought a set of strong dreamy-pop well suited to the warm evening, though I’m not sure it was well suited to Vampire Weekend, whose music is much more upbeat.  In our group of six it came out 3/3 for love/hate.  Personally I find it challenging to enjoy a band who either sits or hides behind a keyboard and relies upon their backdrop for visual interest.  The backdrop was lovely, black with moving points of lights like stars and three pyramids of light.  It was definitely music to space out to and the visual suited it well.  If you want some mellow dreamy indie-pop I highly recommend them, but if you want to go to a show to jump around and feel a lot of energy, best to skip this band.

Beach House Set

Something about the way Vampire Weekend walked out on stage made it seem like the band was in a good mood and I was very excited for the performance to come.  They opened with the usual songs off the album Contra, “Holiday” and “White Sky,” though in the opposite order from what I’ve come to expect.  The band was exuding huge energy from the stage and the crowd was giving it back tenfold.

Vampire Weekend is an excellent, creative and above all professional band.  At The Greek Theater they were bringing their A game for sure.  The sound was amazing and the band was virtually flawless.  Each band member is able to draw interest, some more obvious, like bassist Chris Baio’s crazy dancing, and some more subtle, like keyboardist/guitarist Rostam Batmanglij’s fun facial expressions (if you’re close enough to see them!).  Ezra’s stage banter is fun and charming.  A lot of audience participation is encouraged: The call and response during “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)” and dancing during “A-Punk” and “Mansard Roof” (which apparently has a signature dance move, raise your hands in the air and wiggle your fingers.  I call this spirit fingers, but apparently Ezra wanted to avoid that reference.).  He also remembered that we were in Berkeley, not San Francisco and told a few choice anecdotes about songs.

Now, here is the reason I’m having trouble with this review.  All these things happened at both their shows at The Fox in April and at the show in Lafayette.  This is my fault for seeing a band four times touring the same album.  Really, what did I expect?  They only have two albums (clocking in around 75 minutes of material) and they need to do at least an hour set.  Of course the songs are going to be the same!  I guess I just expect a little more variety in the order (the setlist was almost identical to the 4/19 Fox show).  At this show they did bring out a new cover of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m Going Down” and during their encore they broke from the now standard Horchata-Mansard-Walcott set and added in the fun song “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance.”  The biggest change though was the addition of the slow moody track “I Think UR a Contra” to the set.  It’s an ambitious song and they pulled it off for sure, but I couldn’t help but feel a little let down in comparison to the rest of their songs, which are so lively and fun.

Really though, as I’ve argued previously, being able to bring a consistant good show should hardly be considered a flaw, and if you’re fan enough, like I am, to go to four of their shows in a year, then do you really care if they’re similar?  Or is it just as enjoyable to be there watching so many other people enjoy one of your favourite bands along with you.

Vampire Weekend Setlist

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Mehndi Songs February 4, 2011 at 4:25 pm

I Love these. I have see certain designs and songs, but such mehndi designs and mehndi songs are seen by first time. Off course these are rare and more demanding.

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