The United Palace, a renovated 1930’s New York City movie theatre, set the majestic backdrop for Vampire Weekend’s epic hometown return. Filled with thousands of screaming teenagers and adults alike, the sold out show was positioned as the type of gig to be talked about for months. The question, however, was coming off of the release of their sophomore album, Contra, was the reception of new material going to be as welcomed as some of their debut’s classic cuts?
Before I answer that, I need to mention the upbeat opener, Titus Andronicus. Playing some tracks off their sophomore LP, The Monitor, they easily got the few early shows warmed up. Coming correct with a slew of different instruments, including an electric violin, they offered an interesting taste of what they were working with.
Quickly after the opener a massive Vampire Weekend banner was unfurled and the band took the stage. It had been a while since these Ivy-Leaguers performed in their hometown and so they took charge early, playing tons of notable material, both new and old. In fact, it appeared many fans already had been listening to the the new album religiously for weeks, as they chanted lyrics along with the band word-for-word. This was especially relevant during their performance of “Cousins”, the band’s recent internet single sensation, which had the audience out of their seats. Continuing through fresh material like “Run” and “Horchata”, the Weekend warriors also mixed in some older favorites like “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”, “A-Punk” and “Oxford Comma”. Through different points of the set, the band even included a four-piece string section, most notably for “M79”.
Between songs, frontman Ezra Koenig told the crowd that this might have been one of the group’s longest sets to date. Playing for nearly an hour and fifteen minutes, the band left the stage briefly only to return minutes later for the obligatory encore before the roaring crowd. As the magnificent homecoming reached its end, it was only fitting that Vampire Weekend played something the entire crowd could remember this day by: “Walcott”. The song put a new definition to crowd participation as thousands of people chanted the lyrics along with the band. It was easy to mistake these energetic youngsters for a group of seasoned veterans.