Vampire Weekend @the Academy
'We hate it when our friends become successful' or summat like that is what Morrissey once sang. Well if Vampire Weekend were his pals then he'd be pretty peed off. Tonight the Academy in Sheffield is packed with people here to see them in action.
Lets get this in perspective though if you asked 90% of my friends what they thought of Vampire Weekend they'd say they haven't seen it yet and in any case they don't like horror films. In the real world Vampire Weekend barely register as yet (although I'm sure their songs are probably used to soundtrack the advert for an edgy new tv series on the BBC or a montage of crazy goal celebrations). Still we are talking about a couple of thousand people coming together in Sheffield on a Wednesday night to see a bunch of preppy looking Americans play jaunty African influenced pop.
So how was the gig? It was ok to be honest. The guys only have one (pretty short) album out and so they play a pretty short 50 minute set. This seemed fine earlier in the year when we were in a cramped and packed Cockpit gig in Leeds. Here in Sheffield with the crowd size massively increased and the admission price doubled it seems a bit short. On a personal level I'm rarely a fan of bigger gigs and having lived with the album all year I'm getting a bit jaded with the songs & I suspect so are the band. So its a 5/10 kind of a gig.
However don't let this review put you off getting hold of their debut album. Its an excellent and quirky full of catchy tunes. The kind of thing to remind you what it was that you loved about pop music in the first place. Admittedly they haven't invented something completely new here - Paul Simon, Talking Heads & Peter Gabriel (who gets namechecked along the way) all bought African influences into western pop. Still if you are going to discount all musicians that are doing something that's influenced by what's gone before then you'll be left with four guys dressed in black farting into saucepans and getting raved about on 'Drowned in Sound'.
Don't let the chattering classes hype put you off either. They've become something of a poster band for the likes of the Observer who had an hilarious feature on the new 'literate American' music scene. They held up a few diverse artists as some new unified scene where the lyrics are more important than the music with Fleet Foxes & the Hold Steady coralled in with Vampire Weekend. I'll be frank with you in that I love the Vampire Weekend's lyrics although they make little sense to me. In fact they've been quite an education to me. This year saw me looking up both 'Oxford Comma' and 'Mansard Roof' on Wikipedia & I consider myself better informed as a result. In the end though its the music that really gets me going.