What Comes After The (Vampire) Weekend?

Live Review

Written By Michael Wood Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

Vampire Weekend at The Cockpit, Leeds

They are nice boys these Vampire Weekend lads - the sort of boys that you read about in book that end with families eating noodle salad in the Hamptons - but they will have problems convincing anyone that they are a proper band.

They are active boys - popping around the stage with a nervousness that is not quite energy but is appealing in a way. They say they are happy to be in Leeds for the first time - American bands are always impressed to be where The Who were Live At - and you believe them.

They are polite boys - these Vampire Weekend lads - but they will have problems convincing anyone that they are a proper band.

This is not to say that they are not interesting to watch - interesting rather than enthralling - and that they do not put out a curious tune. In these days where thrashing guitars has become ubiquitous and inane lyrics are only matched by cod-psychology in the outpourings of musicians they make a welcome change to both. The African rhythms have only experienced the continent via Talking Heads, Peter Gabriel and Paul Simon but those are interesting influences to have and certainly make Vampire Weekend stand out.

When they were first touted Vampire Weekend were dubbed as The Strokes playing Graceland and the latter half of that is true. The band lack the swagger of The Strokes though and all that goes with that swagger. Excitement is the word I'm talking around. Vampire Weekend are good to appreciate but they are not exciting.

They are a curio trying to carve out a sound for themselves as they are buffeted by a global media who descended on them before they were fully formed and took them from their scene to everybody's scene. They had their name on billboards in Times' Square when they should have still been gigging around building a sound and a following - Okkervil River and The National are on fourth albums and offer something more solid that Vampire Weekend do at the moment. One wonders how long an audience built on the quirkiness - the difference - of this sound can last. One wonders if were it not on heavy MTV rotation the members of Vampire Weekend might not got together and say "Well that was fun doing that Paul Simon stuff but let’s see where else we can go..." rather than carrying on as a covers band playing new material.

None of which is to criticise a good performance at a good gig. They played everything from the self-titled album with Mansard Roof opening, A-Punk standing out and Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa being a good finish but most revealing was the new as yet untitled song which showed little progression. The bands that Vampire Weekend draw from were all allowed to move on to and off of a sound onto another.

Where do Vampire Weekend - penned in by the thing that has broken them - go from here?

Written By Michael Wood Wednesday, May 7th, 2008

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