Vampire Weekend Celebrate “Contra” With Energetic L.A. Gig - Rolling Stone
Home Music Music News

Vampire Weekend Celebrate “Contra” With Energetic L.A. Gig

Because Vampire Weekend are the ultimate college band (at least for people who balk at the notion of a college band), it made sense that frontman Ezra Koenig had instruction in mind last night at Hollywood’s Henry Fonda Theater, where the New York quartet played a sold-out record-release show in honor of Contra, their terrific new second disc. “This is a good one to scream along to,” Koenig said before the band played “M79”; later, he introduced “A-Punk” by announcing, “This is the song where you start to dance.”


In fact, Koenig had no trouble inspiring those desired reactions: Throughout much of Vampire Weekend’s tidy 80-minute set, the pumped-up capacity crowd could have passed for the throng at a mall appearance by Justin Bieber. These guys may sing about punctuation and architecture, but with their button-down shirts and their cute haircuts, the group’s teen-dream appeal is an old-fashioned no-brainer.

Check out photos of Vampire Weekend onstage and off.

Playing in front of an enormous blow-up of Contra‘s cover, Koenig and his bandmates ripped through muscular new songs like “Holiday” and “Cousins” and gave older jams such as “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” a fresh coat of road-veteran vigor. Drummer Chris Tomson seemed especially determined to prove that Vampire Weekend are no longer the effete lightweights many fingered them as following their 2008 debut; several times he had to stand up to hit his drums as hard as he wanted to. Keyboardist-guitarist Rostam Batmanglij pushed plenty of buttons in order to reproduce Contra’s more expansive textures, which left Koenig space to work his fans like a pint-sized David Byrne.

He only lost their attention during “Taxi Cab,” a lovely new ballad whose contemplative vibe was no match for the Tuesday-night chatter of the industry types clogging the back of the room. (“You turned me to on these guys,” one such type was overheard telling another — a quaint idea now that Vampire Weekend seem so unavoidable.) Soon enough, though, Koenig had his admirers back in the palm of his hand, inciting a pogo party during “Walcott” and leading a venue full of Californians in a sing-along about getting out of Cape Cod tonight.


Set list:
“White Sky”
“Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”
“I Stand Corrected”
“California English”
“One (Blake’s Got a New Face)”
“Taxi Cab”
“Diplomat’s Son”
“Oxford Comma”
“Giving Up the Gun”
“Mansard Roof”

In This Article: Vampire Weekend


Powered by
Arrow Created with Sketch. Calendar Created with Sketch. Path Created with Sketch. Shape Created with Sketch. Plus Created with Sketch. minus Created with Sketch.