Photo by JOSH PELTA-HELLER
Vampire Weekend, what a silly name for a band. Named after a short film Ezra Koenig (lead singer and guitarist) made in college, it took me a while for these guys to grow on me because of their title. New bands, take note- the name of your band is important. Hot off the release of their fourth album Father Of The Bride, Vampire Weekend has made a successful comeback after a six year hiatus and are now embarking on their first tour in about as long.
Last night, the crowd braved the threat of hellacious rain and an even worse parking situation at the Mann Center to see the band. Concertgoers were greeted by a giant frog on the front lawn of the venue, and the props Vampire Weekend employed added some nice visuals to populate the stage. Mirroring the theme of Father Of The Bride’s cover, a large globe rotated behind the band as they played. Opening act Christone “Kingfish” Ingram added a fresh take to the twelve bar blues idiom.
After a long pause in the action, the Vampires finally began their set with the explosive Father of the Bride track “Sympathy,” but the energy of the song wasn’t enough to convince most of the audience to leave their seats, but the crowd really got into by the time they got around to playing the earworm “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” from their self-titled breakout debut LP. Though the songs may have pretty straightforward pop arrangements, the band was tight enough to extend them into long jam sessions, most notably with “Sunflower” with its glorious competing guitars. In fact, most songs they couldn’t leave alone without adding instrumental passages. Ezra Koenig’s voice translated pretty well into a live setting, singing with the confident tone of a person who’s unafraid to ask his parents for money.
Most elements of the show were impeccable and the songs were expertly performed with passion, however the mix was not up to par with the usually stellar acoustics of the Mann. For most of the concert, the bass guitar was barely audible. Despite this, their exuberance and energy powered through, and by the encore the show’s few sins were forgiven. The band ended on a high note with the songs “Worship You” and “Ya Hey,” where they released two massive inflatable globes onto the crowd. Vampire Weekend’s show was a perfect end to the summer before school starts back up again. In response to the love and adulation of the audience, Ezra made a promise not to take so long in returning to Philly. Here’s hoping he keeps it. — CHARLIE COLAN