The Troxy, London, Thursday May 2
It’s out with the old and in with the old for Vampire Weekend. Just a few days before the release of the New Yorkers’ third album ‘Modern Vampires Of The City’, they hide a handful of new songs among the favourites tonight, as though fans need reminding what the band are about.
Vampire Weekend have come on since the Mansard roofs, Ralph Lauren polo shirts and long days studying at Columbia University that brought them together. They’ve updated their outfits to open-necked shirts and jeans, the uniform of every former prep kid, and they’ve upped the esoteric song references to the power of 10. Their frantic, pogoing pop songs are now a cover for lyrics about being an immigrant (‘Ya Hey’), Jesus (‘Unbelievers’), and death (‘Diane Young’). They’ve also learned to poke fun at their own academic stylings. In ‘Step’, Ezra bends away from the mic and tries to get a call-and-response going with the line, “What you on about?“. Which, let’s be frank, is what we were all thinking when we were screaming “Blake’s got a new face“.
‘Step’ bears all the hallmarks of the modern Vampires. It comes early on in the set, its steady pace and slippery lyrics speaking of a grown-up band who’ll still elbow in a lyrical reference to Modest Mouse, but actually have Modest Mouse round for tea.
“That’s not what Vampire Weekend are for,” says a girl in the lobby after the show. “They’re for bouncing around to.” Yeah, and they know it. Koenig said recently that part of the reason they’ve held off releasing a new album for so long is because they don’t want to be one of those bands who you go and see for the hits, and then end up hearing loads of new songs. True, the majority of the set is packed with crowd-pleasers, but Ezra only seems to come alive when he drops his guitar and adopts a boyband purr for the new songs. Maybe when Vampire Weekend are playing whole sets of those, they’ll perk up a little bit.