live review

Vampire Weekend, Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland

Vampire Weekend, Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland

Reviewed by Ryan Eyers
3rd May 2010

Vampire Weekend
29th April 2010
Bruce Mason Centre, Auckland

Are Vampire Weekend the perfect pop act? Here’s a band whose popularity runs the gamut: their two albums have garnered near-universal critical acclaim (including two BNM’s from indie-elitists Pitchfork) and yet, as anyone who attended their gig at the Bruce Mason Centre will attest, they also managed to fly halfway around the world and play an extensive set to a teenager-dominated crowd, many of whom the snob in me wondered might have been enticed because they thought the band had something to do with Twilight.

But anyone who would have thought the strikingly-young age of the crowd would be anything but positive for the show were quickly disproved as soon as the first notes of opener ‘White Sky’ were hit, with vocalist Ezra Koenig’s falsetto tones eagerly matched and accentuated by the devoted and enthusiastic crowd. This lasted for the entirety of the extensive set that mined around 90% of the band’s catalogue, treating fans to razor-sharp renditions of older favourites like ‘Campus’, ‘A-Punk’, ‘Oxford Comma’ and ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’, as well as almost everything from the newer Contra (sadly, missing the brilliant closer, I Think UR A Contra).

The band’s execution was near-flawless, aside from the odd obviousness of a backing track, performing with an inspired energy that definitely fed off the crowd’s participation, and Koenig’s voice (when you could hear it over the crowd) stunned, proving that he really can hit every one of those heights with precision. Musically, the instruments were a fluid whole, with Rostam Batmanglij’s keys gliding effortlessly around Koenig’s guitar lines and over top of the synced-up rhythm duo of drummer Chris Tomson and bassist Chris Baio, showing how their songs expert construction stands up in a live environment. The Bruce Mason Centre’s brilliant acoustics certainly helped, especially when crammed with such an adoring audience, and the tiered set-up meant that those who wanted to relax and those who preferred to jump around could do so without bugging each other.

Overall, the show managed to cater for everyone, and as the final cacophony of rampant encore closer ‘Walcott’ lingered, a raw, gleeful reverie could be felt throughout the venue and was reflected in the sea of smiling faces. For me, seeing an intelligent, critically-acclaimed indie-pop band like Vampire Weekend please as diverse an age-range and fan base as they did truly reaffirmed my belief in the power of good pop music to reach and entertain pretty much everyone who gives it the chance.

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