Pitchfork Music Festival 2012, live review | Vampire Weekend
Pitchfork- Vampire Weekend
Vampire Weekend took the stage Sunday night fully aware of the odds that were stacked against them. The response had been nothing short of lukewarm upon hearing that the New York four-piece would be closing out the festival weekend. But these guys did go to Columbia University—they’re not idiots. So they didn’t shy away from acknowledging the skepticism. “It’s been an amazing lineup,” lead singer Ezra Koenig remarked. “Hopefully it finishes strong.” For a band whose most memorable record came out seemingly a million years ago (a little over four, to be precise), the way to the crowd’s heart would have to be through nostalgia, which is exactly the path Vampire took. And an apt strategy it was.
To start things off, the quartet plowed through memorable favorites like “Cousins,” “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” and “M79.” The audience went wild for those damn catchy melodies. As someone that was wholeheartedly underwhelmed by Vampire Weekend’s addition to the festival, I was surprised by my own visceral reaction to songs I hadn’t heard in years, a sentiment that seemed to be felt by everyone in attendance.
“We don’t play a lot of shows,” Koenig noted after the first few songs, “and the last time we played Pitchfork Bush was in the White House.” Perhaps it was memories of that era that carried Vampire Weekend’s set, allowing concert goers to recall a world pre-stock market crash and pre-Ke$ha. The group played nearly all of their debut album, continuing with “A-Punk,” “I Stand Corrected,” “Campus,” and “Oxford Comma,” while peppering in a couple from their sophomore release, like “Run,” and “Holiday.”
After leaving the stage, the crowd began a mad chant of “one more song!” which was finally appeased after a several minutes. Their encore picks of “One (Blake’s Got A New Face)”, “Mansard Roof,” and “Kid’s Don’t Stand A Chance” sent the crowd further into their nostalgic frenzy. “This is so beautiful, what a Chicago night,” gushed Koenig. He spoke of returning home to wrap up their next record, then explained a Vampire Weekend tradition for first-time concert attendees. “We end our sets with this song because it’s about leaving—leaving Cape Cod,” Koenig remarked before starting a rousing rendition of “Walcott.”
Perhaps the double-edged sword of Pitchfork Festival is that it’s always striving to explore what’s new and trending, often brushing aside artists in that awkward older-than-a-year-but-less-than-a-decade spectrum. But what happens the next year and the year after that? Will anyone really care about Smith Westerns’ aloofness, or which Lotus band is which? The selection of Vampire Weekend was a poignant one, proving that some indie music is just really good, regardless of how recent or revolutionary it is. Controversy aside, the festival closed on a reflective note, and a catchy one at that, carrying plenty “A-Punk” hums onto the CTA ride home.