Photography: Holly Parker (Instagram: @hllyprkr) and Wall of Sound
8-minute Cape Cod? 20 minutes? Try 35! Indie-rock veterans Vampire Weekend coolly played off a number of sound/tech issues during their midweek Melbourne show.
The picturesque Forum night sky illuminated the stage with a large blow-up Earth hovering above. With no supporting act classical music played softly out of the speakers to create a cosy environment. Like they have done a million times the now 7-piece came out nonchalantly as if it was second nature.
Bursting through with a few jams from their old and new collections with Bambina, Holiday and Unbelievers it was made very clear early why Vampire Weekend are one of those iconic bands you will never forget.
My journey with Vampire Weekend began way back towards the end of primary school. My older sister became obsessed with this band that sounded much different to the Good Charlottes, Green Days and Ushers I was listening to. I thought being cool and making good music could only come out of the form of people like the Madden Brothers and Billie Joe Armstrong.
Then I stumbled across Ezra Koenig.
This preppy college boy was kind of cool, and you know what? So’s the music. I’m really digging this! From then I was able to not only discover one of my favourite bands, but I was exposed to a whole new world of music.
Vampire Weekend have done this for an immeasurable amount of the music population, shaping the music taste of an entire generation. They were the first point of contact for countless people into the alternative music world and for that all we have to say is thank you.
Following this hot start came the sound issues. Multiple cut outs of Cape Cod caused frustration amongst the band and the crowd as they were forced off stage again and again. The cosy classical music at this time became unbearable. It’s understandable these things happen, however for a premium concert hall like the Forum you’d think a person won’t be asked to come back Monday.
Yet, like the experienced heads they are, the band was calm and poised throughout this difficult period. To rebuild repour with the fans, Ezra spent very little time chatting between the following batch of songs letting their music do the talking.
Time spent waiting was fast forgotten as all four guitars were used to create a beautifully layered build for songs like White Sky and back-to-back blasts of popular hits This Life, Harmony Hall, Diane Young, Cousins and A-Punk occurred.
Amidst the huge crowd eruption Ezra humorously eased any concerns of a condensed set, assuring they’ll play the set they wanted to play.
“Feel free to jump out and fill the parking meter, we’ll still be here, even if it takes all night.”
Ezra always manages to find a way to make you believe everything is going to be ok.
Over the last few years the arrangement of the band has certainly changed. Since Rostam Batmanglij’s departure, Brian Jones, Greta Morgan, Garrett Ray and Will Canzoneri have been added to the mix. All four inject a certain something, but it is Brian Jones on guitar who has made the band’s live presence more known. His finely groomed afro almost flew off his head through sprawling head-banging guitar solos in New Dorp New York and Sunflower/Stoneflower. Giving a fresh face like Brian Jones such an important role in the band’s live show exhibits the band’s adaptability to change, an attribute that has earned themselves a wide level of respect in the music industry.
After a rousing encore from the crowd, we were treated to something I’ve never seen in a larger scale concert, requests. Ezra passed it onto the crowd to formulate the final few songs on the setlist. Fans from right against the barrier to the back of the floor were given the chance to hear deeper cuts that the band would never normally play. With an outstanding catalogue of songs, you’d guess that every person would have a different request in mind. Diplomat’s Son, Ottoman and The Kid’s Don’t Stand a Chance were picked out.
With most other acts attempting this would play a significant risk with people most likely leaving because they weren’t hearing the songs they wanted to play. Not Vampire Weekend. The band kept everyone fixated on the stage as they were prepared to play any song that came to mind. Every diverse track was a real groove for the crowd to get into, notably during Diplomat’s Son when we were asked to cue the band in with the beginning vocal sample.
This just exemplifies the class that is Vampire Weekend. Along with the audio issues, many bands would crumble in this type of situation. The band typified this with a heartfelt message regarding the bushfire crisis that is happening across the country preaching that we live in solidarity before closing the show with a moving rendition of Ya Hey. The indie-rock group announced a $10,000 donation to Wildlife Victoria on their Instagram the following day.
P.s. Expect to see a few limited edition ‘I survived the 35-minute Cape Cod’ tees floating around town after this night.