Last Night: Vampire Weekend at the Art Theatre in Long Beach (11/02/09)
Better Than: the last time I saw them at the Glass House in September of 2008.
After a secret show in Chinatown and a last minute show in Boyle Heights, Vampire Weekend "officially" kicked off their mini tour of California at the Art Theatre in Long Beach. Vampire Weekend is gearing up for the release of their new album Contra which is due on 1/12 on XL recordings.
Selling out the roughly 400 capacity theater in a fleet nine minutes, a line of 30 people was already stationed outside the venue hoping to secure a good spot up front. With new song titles like "Horchata" and "California English", one might consider that the East coast based band have been spending some time in our state and are showing some appreciation.
The tropical breezy guitars of "White Sky" immediately had the faithful fans in front dancing along as all the band members seemed to be energized by a very lively Long Beach crowd considering it was a Monday night. Vampire Weekend would dip back into more familiar territory with razor sharp renditions of "Cape Cod Kwassa" and "I Stand Corrected".
The dynamics of Vampire Weekend are interesting as Ezra Koenig (Guitars/Vocals) very deceptively uses his guitar to lightly color the songs that are propelled by the dynamic rhythm section of Chris Baio (Bass) and Chris Tomson (Drums). Rostam Batmanglij (Keyboards/Guitars) often will spice up the tunes with a melodic keyboard riff or a droney mellotron sample.
One of the new songs had a definite surf feel reminiscent of Dick Dale as Ezra rapidly tremolo picked his guitar for a blazing solo. During "One (Blake's Got A New Face) , the crowd very willingly helped sing along to the call and response tune. "A-Punk" was the high energy point of the night that even forced the people in the back of the venue to pogo to the bouncy beat.
It had only seemed like seconds when they left the stage after the slice and dice guitars of "Oxford Comma". After running through the crowd pleasing "Mansard Roof," Ezra requested for the lights to be lowered for the refreshing "Horchata" which was dedicated to Lola's Mexican restaurant across the street. "Walcott" closed out their set as Ezra promised they would be back soon.
It should be noted that Long Beach based Avi Buffalo dazzled the audience prior to Vampire Weekend with a roughly thirty minute batch of sunny fractured pop. They recently signed to Sub Pop records and were frequently asked throughout their set what was the name of their band. The highlight of their set was the supersonic closer that had Avi Buffalo (Guitars/Vocals) scrambling all over the fretboard of his Fender Jazzmaster. Catch Avi Buffalo at the Echo in Los Angeles on November 5th before they get too big to play those small places.
Personal Bias: I love the fact that cool shows are finally appearing in Long Beach.
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Random Detail: The Ice Cream Man was handing out free ice cream after the show!
By The Way: Vampire Weekend will be playing the FM 94.9 Christmas show in San Diego on December 12th with Spoon, Phoenix and Metric!