Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Concert Review: Vampire Weekend and The Blow

First, let's talk about The Blow. The Blow is the moniker of a one-woman act hailing out of New York. Her initial stage presence was timid, if not a little self-depreciating. Totally hip cred? Check. I wasn't blown away at first (hur hur hur. I know). I was more captivated by the Ian Curtis-esque dance moves than what she was singing. There was a lot of intentional off-key moments that just didn't resonate. I've seen off-key get used in magical ways that really jar the audience and make a point... but this was like... well, imagine an under-prepared band of 16-17 year olds playing their first gig. It's awkward and lacking in some confidence. You know it could be really enjoyable, but it's just not quiet there yet.

"Chels, you snot!" You may be thinking at this point. "Don't be such a dick!"

But here's where her performance just upped its game. After going on a diatribe about a certain (redheaded, bi, train-wreck) celebrity of certain renown who could not be named, for whom she wrote some tracks, it was like a different person. A different show. Suddenly, I was enraptured! Her minimalist electro-pop grew a spine and spun me onto the dance floor! I was tickled pink by the cutsey lyrics in Parentheses. That was enough to hold my attention: a groove-inducing beat overlayed with casio-rock licks. Absolutely delicious! Following that (and possibly one of my favourites) was this bare-bones track with a foundation of snares driving the beat forward and forward and forward. God love me, I didn't catch the name of it. Dear readers, if you know, please share. Finally, there was True Affection. I thought this track was just made to rock socks. It sounded like it could have been air-lifted from the repetoire of Karin Dreijer Andersson herself. Only love. And applesauce... sorry. Just got back into the groove of non-sequiter awesomeness that was the Blow's performance. Check her out under her other pseudonyms too!

And onto the main act: Vampire Weekend. By now, everyone who hasn't been living underneath a rock has heard something by these guys. Which is great, because I've been a pretty big fan since I first heard M79 in the spring of 2008. So, there's probably little need to tell you about their funky afro-pop meets New York Indie sound. It's insanely catchy, melodic, dancable, and extremely fun. How does this translate to a live audience you may ask? Well, to put it succinctly: perfectly. I mean, how can you go wrong with a set covered in glittery chandeliers? Rainbows? Creepy faces with glowing eyes? Answer: You cannot.

To their credit (and my great happiness), the band played a number of tracks from their freshman release, including M79, Bryn and One (Blake's Got A New Face). The latter turned into a crowd sing-a-long encouraged by Ezra himself. If you listen to the song, you can only imagine how that sounded amplified a few hundred times over!

The encore was a stronger finish than I could have imagined putting together - perhaps why I write about music rather than having a band of my own... The boys rocked out Horchata, Mansard Roof and Walcott for the eager crowd. It was a perfect finish to a perfect night. And as per usual, not close to long enough. Always a good sign.

Vampire Weekend is still touring if you want to check them out (good luck scoring tickets, though)... or grab a copy of their self-titled or Contra from these fine locations.

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