Vampire Weekend @ Birmingham Academy – 20th October 2008

Vampire Weekend — Ezra Koenig
This summer, Vampire Weekend have provided the soundtrack to rained-off, middle-class barbeques up and down the country, as well as playing to their share of large festival crowds. I went to this gig with a feeling of curiosity rather than any expectation.  Although I think their album is fine as background music, I couldn’t conceive of a couple of thousand people packed into a venue getting all that excited about them.
Vampire Weekend — Ezra Koenig
First though, the support.  I was disappointed to miss the intriguing El Guincho and found the second band on the bill, Wild Beasts, a little disappointing.  Vocals that alternated between faux-operatic and a Scooby Doo howl and much swapping of instruments didn’t compensate for fairly unremarkable rock.  I don’t think the venue’s acoustics did them many favours and it’s possible that a few subtleties were lost.  I wasn’t won over and, judging by the polite smatterings of applause between songs and loud conversation during them, nor were many others in the crowd.
Vampire Weekend - Rostam Batmanglij
I can only say I was taken aback by the response to ‘Mansard Roof’, Vampire Weekend’s opening track, with the crowd bellowing the first few lines back at the band and a girl perched on someone’s shoulders even throwing up some devil horns.

The eponymous debut alum was played in its entirety and was well received – the ska rhythm of ‘A-Punk’ got the crowd shouting along , ‘Oxford Comma’ provoked a good deal of hip-shaking and ‘M79’ was a personal highlight. Of the new tracks, only the first lingers in the memory and only because it was the only duff track of their set.
Vampire Weekend — Ezra Koenig
For all the talk of afrobeat influences, what came through even stronger from seeing them onstage was a 60’s guitar-pop sensibility.  It’s in the catchiness of the songs, the vocals and the way the band present themselves.  That there are rhythms from Africa and the West Indies seems incidental.

An encore of a fast and furious ‘Walcott’ provided the show’s close and sent most people home happy.  Personally I thought they were fine; pretty interesting but not amazing. Most of all I got the impression of a band out of their element, better suited to playing in the open air or being played at polite gathering of friends.
Vampire Weekenders

Review by Chris Unitt
Photography by Bianca Barrett

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6 thoughts on “Vampire Weekend @ Birmingham Academy – 20th October 2008

  1. Hey!
    Quality photo’s and was an amazing gig from the band of the summer.
    You took a photo of me outside academy, said i had the “street style” which was much appreciated may i say. Just wondered if you have still got the photo because i would really like it.
    Hope to hear a rely, thanks.

  2. Hi Tom,

    Thanks! It was a great gig indeed. Love this band!

    I’m sorry to say that it wasn’t me who took your photo outside? I took a few photos of the people at the front of the gig, but non outside.

    Is there an impostor out there, pretending to be a photographer from Brumlive?… Hmmmm!

    Sorry to disappoint, glad you had a great night though.

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