Among music critics, Vampire Weekend‘s records score consistently well. Unfortunately, their rate of output is not as consistent with six years passing between 2019’s Father of the Bride, their fourth record, and their previous record. During that period, I don’t think I made serious voluntary attempts to listen to their music (though I did catch former member Rostam Batmanglij’s show earlier this year and their set in support of Bernie Sanders 2016 Presidential candidacy a few years back as it seemed the thing to do at the time)
This year though, with the release of Father of the Bride, the band has me hooked. While the album starts with a stirring slow burn, it quickly attains a massive sound with perfectly crafted pop hooks. It’s peppered with styles of music from all around the world, and I’ve had it on repeat often. But it was still surprising to hear the Vampire Weekend were headlining Madison Square Garden on September 6th. This indie rock group influenced a younger audience more than I realized. Yet even without Rostam, they group still sound formidable; members include vocalist Ezra Koenig, guitarists Chris Baio and Brian Robert Jones, Will Canzoneri and Greta Morgan on keys, and Chris Tomson, and Garrett Ray on drums.
But Vampire Weekend exceeded all my expectations at this arena show. It was an inspiring performance that lasted nearly three hours and included 32 songs, guest appearances from Angélique Kidjo and Steve Lacy (of the Internet), synchronized light-up wristbands (the kind Taylor Swift uses at her stadium shows), t-shirt cannons, and giant inflatable globes tossed into the crowd for the finale.
Photos: Sachyn Mital
Not everything can be perfect, of course. The band lost a bit of energy when Lacy, a Father of the Bride collaborator, made his live debut with the group. Vampire Weekend backed him on his track, “Dark Red”, before they played the Father of the Bride song, “Sunflower”. And about ten minutes before 11:00 pm, Koenig started taking requests (at least one came from a person’s hat) which slowed things down right before what would be the climax.
But there were numerous highlights. Kidjo performed on “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin”, outshining Koenig with her dance moves (some of Paul Simon’s “Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes” was worked in fittingly). At one point, turning to the back of the arena (all the seats were sold), Koenig played “Hold You Now” letting it conclude with a gorgeous rainbow sweeping through the crowd before going right into the feel-good hit, “Harmony Hall”.
And those are just the tracks from the new record. Prior hits they played included “A-Punk”, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”, “Diplomat’s Son”, and “Walcott” (the predictable finale). Each sounded superb in a live setting.
During a live stream of the Madison Square Garden show, the band announced a string of US dates for 2020 that will continue a few months after their 2019 dates conclude. All tour dates are below as well as some additional photos from the performance.
Sep 22 Las Vegas, NV Life Is Beautiful
Sep 25 Vancouver, BC Festival Lawn at Deer Lake Park
Sep 27 Seattle, WA WaMu Theater
Sep 28 Portland, OR McMenamins Edgefield
Oct 01 San Francisco, CA Bill Graham Civic Auditorium
Oct 02 Los Angeles, CA Hollywood Bowl
Oct 03 San Diego, CA CalCoast Credit Union Open Air Theatre at SDSU
Oct 06 Salt Lake City, UT The Complex
Oct 08 Denver, CO Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Oct 09 Denver, CO Red Rocks Amphitheatre
Oct 18 Guadalajara, Jalisco, Mexico Festival Coordenada
Oct 19 Monterrey, Nuevo Leon, Mexico Live Out Festival
Oct 21 Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico Metropolitan Theater
Oct 22 Mexico City, CDMX, Mexico Metropolitan Theater
Nov 07 Edinburgh, UK Usher Hall
Nov 08 Manchester, UK O2 Victoria Warehouse
Nov 09 Manchester, UK O2 Victoria Warehouse
Nov 11 Birmingham, UK O2 Academy
Nov 13 London, UK Alexandra Palace
Nov 14 London, UK Alexandra Palace
Nov 16 Paris, France Le Zenith
Nov 18 Brussels, Belgium Ancienne Belgique
Nov 19 Amsterdam, Netherlands AFAS Live
Nov 21 Cologne, Germany Carlswerk Victoria
Nov 22 Lausanne, Switzerland Les Docks
Nov 24 Barcelona, Spain Razzmatazz
Nov 25 Madrid, Spain La Riviera
Nov 26 Lisbon, Portugal Lisbon Coliseum
Dec 30 Marion Bay SA, Australia Falls Festival
Dec 31 Lorne VIC, Australia Falls Festival
05-29 Westbrook, ME – Maine Savings Pavilion
05-30 Burlington, VT – Midway Lawn
05-31 Gilford, NH – Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion
06-02 Lewiston, NY – Artpark Mainstage Theater 06-03 Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
06-12 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel Outdoors
08-09 Bend, OR – Les Schwab Amphitheater
08-10 Boise, ID – Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater
08-12 Missoula, MT – Kettlehouse Amphitheater
08-14 Calgary, Alberta – BMO Centre
08-15 Edmonton, Alberta – Edmonton Convention Centre
09-23 Columbus, OH – Express Live!
09-24 Detroit, MI – Michigan Lottery Amphitheater at Freedom Hill
09-26 Cedar Rapids, IA – McGrath Amphitheatre
09-27 Lincoln, NE – Pinewood Bowl Theater
09-29 Kansas City, MO – Starlight Theatre
09-30 Tulsa, OK – BOK Center
10-06 New Orleans, LA – Saenger Theatre
10-07 Birmingham, AL – BJCC Concert Hall