The photographs from this show were sadly unable to be used for this review. We hope the following in depth description suffices- the human imagination is often our most powerful tool.
During my junior year of high school, I fell in love with the stylish and sweet songs of Vampire Weekend the day AFTER they came to town. Six years later, the band finally made their return to Dallas to massive excitement and an insanely packed show. The day I had been anticipating for half of a decade was here- and though my love for the band and their music had wained through the years, the show was a brilliant reminder of why I had fallen in love with them so many years ago.
The show started off with a bit of a left-hook, with the 20 year old Mississippi blues guitarist and singer Chris “Kingfish” Ingram taking the stage. Being familiar with the baroque-pop music that Vampire Weekend is so often associated with, the raw and wailing 7 minute guitar solos weren’t what I was expecting to hear (but somehow, exactly what I needed to hear). The set was unbelievably impressive, with the greatest talent on the guitar I had ever seen. The 30~ minute set was over much too soon, but the anticipation for Vampire Weekend was now building even more.
If you want to see some of Kingfish’s unreal talent on the guitar, watch this video!
Vampire Weekend’s entrance was sudden, with all 8 members of the live band flooding the stage to perform “Bambina”, a new track off of their latest album Father of the Bride. The song was winding down to an end when three members of the band broke out into a wildly impressive and tightly knit 3 part guitar harmony that transitioned smoothly into “White Sky”, a delightful song from the bands second album Contra. The trend continued as the harmonic guitars of “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” came sliding in as the last song ended. The band filled their set with nearly equal amounts of songs from every album, catering to fans new and old. Frontman Ezra Koenig also let the crowd know that back in 2007 the band had played a show in Denton to a crowd of about 3 people.
Live renditions of newer songs like “Sunflower” packed a punch, with an extended 7 minute jam as an outro to the song. The connection between Kingfish and the bands newfound style had become clear all at once, with the guitarist of the band performing extensive solos similar to what the crowd had heard just 45 minutes before. It was clear Ezra Koenig had been listening to The Grateful Dead with the way songs like “Sunflower” and “Sympathy” pulsed on and on. Part of me wishes they had extended and innovated the endings of some of their older material as well, but it was still exciting to hear the songs from their latest release reimagined in such a way.
The live set featured a large spinning globe that rotated with a speed that matched the song being performed. The crowd was losing energy, matched with a slow spin during songs like “I Stand Corrected” and “Hold You Now.” The globe picked up in an instant for “Cousins” and “Diane Young”, as well as a faster (somehow) version of “Harmony Hall.”
The set ended with a cover of Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over,” leaving the corwd apprehensive for an encore. As expected, the band returned moments after they left the stage. During their 5 song encore, they played a back to back run of three tracks off of Modern Vampires of the City, including the requested “Finger Back” that they apparently hadn’t played for a crowd in about three years. Vampire Weekend the night with their crowd pleasing “Walcott,” ending the evening on a high energy and satisfying return to their earliest music. The band played everything and more, making sure the show was an amazing experience for everyone that showed up on that very special August night.
For a taste of the band’s live performance, check out this video!