By Martin Cizmar
It hasn’t quite been 11 months since Vampire Weekend released their first single, “Mansard Roof.” In that time, they’ve gone from the buzziest band since Arcade Fire, to a cultural touchstone for New Yorker types, to last night’s show at the Marquee, where a dad in jean shorts lifted his towheaded son on to his shoulders for a better view during “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa.”
That’s right: scenester darlings to glorified Wiggles in less than a year.
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It sounds bad, but it shouldn’t. As they showed on stage, Vampire Weekend still plays the enchanting Afro-tinged indie rock that won over fans outside area Montessori schools – even if their shows have become Stuff White People Like: The Live Experience.
After opening with “Mansard Roof,” the New York-based band settled in to a set that included Orthodox versions of almost everything in their catalog. The show was back loaded, with most of the highlights – a sing-a-long to “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)” that turned out much better than the recorded version, “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance” and “Oxford Comma” – coming near the end of the hour. While keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij was as stiff as anyone possibly could be, the rhythm section made up for it and singer Ezra Koenig was affable, teasing the crowd about the Phoenix-Tucson rivalry and introducing songs with endearing humility.
Two new songs seemed to have a little more of an edge than the stuff on the band’s self-titled debut, but went over well with an eclectic crowd that included quite a few grade-schoolers. It’s been less than a year, but in another month, this tour will be over and the studio will be waiting. Those new songs – afterthoughts on a night when an adoring crowd knew the words to almost everything the band played – will be all that matters for Vampire Weekend.
Creating a successful followup will be a tough task. Children tend to have short attention spans.