Show Review: Vampire Weekend @ ACL Live (8.21)
Upon entering the Moody Theater on Wednesday night, I was quickly absorbed into a sea of cool dads, bright colored shorts, and smatterings of patagonia logos. The scene was unmistakably a Vampire Weekend concert.
*Special guest review by Alec Boyd–read his full thoughts after the jump.
The band played in Austin over three nights in the smallest venue they will inhabit on this tour. The tradeoff for the smaller and intimate shows was the opportunity to be featured on the longrunning Austin City LimitsTV series. If night one was the warm-up, Ezra and his bandmates made it clear they were hitting night two in full stride.
The newly expanded seven-piece band took the stage and were instantly greeted with a boisterous applause that likely registered as a low level earthquake. Opening with Holiday, the Honda commercial and fan favorite, they set the pace for their marathon 140 minute set. It was clear that frontman Ezra Koenig had his finger on the pulse of his fans wishes, since the setlist had an excellent balance of new material from their new album Father of the Bride, obscure B-sides, dad-rock covers and healthy doses of fan favorites.
The strength of this new lineup began to reveal itself early on as they tackled new songs Bambina and This Life with studio-like precision and a breezy look of effortlessness. As the opening guitar rifts of Sunflower rang out, it became very clear that this was not the same Vampire Weekend that came to Austin 5 years ago. These songs were given a new meaning as the band jammed their way through a 10 minute rendition of Sunflower. VW took it even further by re-working standards like Giving Up the Gun, in which they incorporated a new slowed down and groove oriented beat. The night stretched into a far-reaching, 28 song set before Vampire Weekend prepared to step into their last number. Before parting ways, Ezra reminisced with the crowd about debuting Ya Hey at SXSW in 2013 right before launching into the nights last sing-along.
It was clear that the band is having the most fun they have ever had on the road and are proudly wearing their jam band influences on their sleeve. By breathing new life into old songs, taking fan requests, as well as the constant shuffling of setlists each night, everything about the Father of the Bride Tour felt fresh, fun and invigorating.
*Thanks again to Alec Boyd for this review.