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What is there left to say about Vampire Weekend that hasn’t already been said in Spin, Rolling Stone, the New York Times and other publications? By this point, their story is familiar: the quartet went to Columbia University together. They started playing music together in early 2006, and quickly picked up plenty of heat and a record contract.
In the various things I’ve read, the band seems hyper-articulate and contemplative, and straining for an advanced level of self-awareness. Here’s a sample from lead singer Ezra Koenig: “I’d taken a trip to India the year before and stopped in London for a few days on the way there. It got me thinking a lot about colonialism and the aesthetic connections between preppy culture and native cultures of places like Africa and India.” Pardon? The band’s own bio opens with a similar line about Koenig’s musings.
But, here’s the big revelation of last night’s performance at the Rock and Roll Hotel: Vampire Weekend was pretty low-key. They played their music. They played it well. They didn’t talk much to the crowd. But, they seemed glad to be there. They were on and off in roughly an hour.
The band has talked before about the various labels given to their sound. They were called “prep rock.” But, Koenig didn’t like that. According to the Times, they prefer “Upper West Side Soweto.”
The best—maybe only—shout-out of the night was to keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij’s family, who live in the area. Ah, I thought upon hearing that, so that explains the happy group of 50 to 60-something Middle-Eastern people near the stage.
After the show, I caught up with Batmanglij’s mother, who didn’t want to talk much, and father, who cheerfully said he didn’t want to talk at all. But, eventually, I met the keyboardist’s cousin, who said Batmanglij’s family is Iranian and that “half the people here are older Persian people,” she said.
Batmanglij went to the Potomac School in McLean. She called him “an artist” and said that his family always really encouraged him to pursue music. The support obviously showed at the venue, and apparently would later on as well, since the band was staying the night with Batmanglij’s family before journeying on to Philadelphia.
A couple more pics from the show below: