This weekend’s performances at Reading and Leeds are both Vampire Weekend’s last confirmed dates for their ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’ campaign and a rare chance to catch them in the UK this summer. Providing the warm up for co-headliners Paramore and Queens Of The Stone Age, the New York band made their case for being future bill-toppers at the twin festivals. They’ve already conquered the pinnacle of Latitude so it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them being placed top of the pack on an August bank holiday weekend around album number four. On Friday (August 22), they did their best to steal their American peers’ thunder and here’s how they did it.
Reading & Leeds are two of the last big festivals of the season, signalling the end of the British summer. Vampire Weekend, though, have summery tunes in abundance, with their afrobeat influences shining through as the sun was preparing to set over the Main Stage today. The reggae-tinged skank of ‘Holiday’ and the lilting guitar lines of ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ are the perfect antidotes to the cool breeze of night setting in. QOTSA might be a powerful beast but do they transport you to the sandy beaches of west coast America? 1-0 Vampire Weekend.
In these stakes, Vampire Weekend can truly hold their own. We overheard voices in the crowd bemoaning them to play their “one song” but Ezra Koenig and his bandmates have far more up their sleeves than just ‘A-Punk’. ‘Oxford Comma’, for a start, ignited the masses in a massive bellow-along while opener ‘Diane Young’ had those gathered in front of the Main Stage desperately trying to imitiate Koenig’s rapid fire delivery.
The ability to unite the crowd with one song
That said, there’s nothing quite like watching how much it goes off when the New Yorkers do drop ‘A-Punk’. Not many bands can boast one song that has can make the entire crowd universally stop whatever they were doing before as soon as it kicks in and start dancing as if no one is watching. It’s a beautiful sight and one that brings a special sense of connection to the Vampire Weekend experience.
They might have a reputation for bookishness, but with that comes a touch of class. Where else across the entire weekend would you find a band comfortable with singing about grammar (‘Oxford Comma’) and biblical references (‘Ya Hey’)? Certainly not in Blink 182’s headline set on Sunday, that’s for sure. Their class extends further than a mere desire to showcase their intelligence, though. Where some bands rely on gimmicks during their sets (a “your mum” joke here, an Elvis impersonation there), Vampire Weekend wouldn’t dare stoop so low. Instead, they just do what they do best - deliver their tunes with aplomb, all while looking effortlessly cool.
Possibly Vampire Weekend’s finest tune ever, the moment they recreated ‘Step’ in all its tinkling, subdued glory was an early highlight of the weekend. With Ezra Koenig donning a slick shades and bomber jacket combo, Rostam Batmanglij making the complex piano melodies look like a piece of cake and the surprisingly chilled out Reading atmosphere combined perfectly to prove that, even when they’re not going full-throttle on the indie anthems, the quartet are more than capable of still nailing it, even when they slow things down a touch.