Review: Vampire Weekend at the Bruce Mason Centre

By Jacqueline Smith


Woe betide anyone who went to Vampire Weekend without learning every single one of Ezra Koenig's incomprehensible lyrics. The teeny tiny venue - well, small relative to how many people were in it - trembled with the crowd chorus, which at times almost drowned out the front man's own clean but artsy voice.

Organisers did seem to have squeezed in a few too many ticket-holders that night - the very flustered floor staff made it appear something was terribly wrong - but I guess that's what you get when you put an international band with one of the most popular albums of the year in a ballet auditorium.

Don't get me wrong, the venue's sound was impeccable, the light show magic, and it was quite special to be close enough to see the bassist's shoes were the Tiger brand from the back of the theatre. But maybe for the privilege of seeing Vampire Weekend somewhere less sterile than an arena, all the Kiwi fans should have been put in some sort of ballot like that being used to fill the seats for the Rugby World Cup final.

Not that Vampire Weekend should ever be used in the same sentence as the brutal sport. They are preppy, tribal and orchestral-inspired indie rockers who wear their jeans slightly above the ankle bone as per this season's catwalk.

The keyboardist stood awkwardly and the guitarist danced gawkily, while Koenig charmed the audience in his New York drawl, thanking them for their "beautiful singing, like a choir of angels", and encouraging them to impress their crush with some wild dance moves.

It's hard to say which of the slick set's tunes erupted loudest. They ran through all the hits from the self-titled debut album (including Campus, Boston, One and of course Oxford Comma) and from this year's chart-topping sophomore release Contra (Diplomat's Son, stadium-style hit Giving up the Gun, Holiday and Run).

With the help of the electric cello and drum machine, the songs were delivered exactly as they sound on the records, so there were few surprises other than the eyes of the album's mysterious cover girl lighting up a haunting red during several Contra songs. It was probably one of Koenig's subliminal messages alluding to the name of the band ... but with his unique imagination, who knows.

Fortunately Vampire Weekend did an encore, otherwise the crowd might have stomped the theatre into Lake Pupuke.

They returned to their appreciative fans to pelt out the biggest singles from both abums; Horchata, Mansard Roof and Walcott. What a party.

The fans, if not the staff, had no complaints whatsoever.

- NZ Herald

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