Vampire Weekend are one of those bands that are so good, you almost take it for granted. I hadn’t seen them live in years, so when they took the stage at Apogee’s Berkeley Street Studio last night for KCRW, I was impressed all over again. The four of them act like brothers off stage with a great sense of humor and playfulness. On stage, Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Tomson, Chris Baio are each a force — great multi-talented musicians.
The joyful vibe of their music was exactly was I needed after a pretty heavy week.
Host Jason Bentley mentioned how people were skipping to their set at Coachella and it was easy to see why. It’s hard to stand still to songs like “Holiday” and “I Stand Corrected”, and even more so their first single “Diane Young”, which seems to have taken them from the Afrobeat influences of their earlier records straight to surf rock/punk. It’s even more fun live.
They gave us taste of other songs from their forthcoming album “Modern Vampire of the City” (out May 14), including “Step”, “Unbelievers” (with some Rostam/Ezra harmonies I really loved) and “Ya Hey”. That song seems to be a perfect example of what they are aiming for on the new album.
Jason talked to them about their process and Rostam (who co-produced the record) said there was a compromise. Him and Ezra each had a vision – Ezra wanted more organic sounds and less buzzy synths and Rostam wanted more piano-based tunes. Jason called the whole album “a confident and dynamic step forward for the band”. (He also mentioned having heard it 30 times in one day because the label wouldn’t give him a stream of the top secret record until the last minute!)
The guys said they wrote songs in batches and in each group, there were a few they knew were special. They kept doing that for about a year until they had enough songs they really loved.
Jason surprised the band at the end of the interview by engaging the audience in a game of trivia during which we found out some interesting tidbits about the band: Chris Baio reads about 40 books a year. Chris Tomson (CT) loves jam bands but doesn’t enjoy pot. Rostam’s mom has written numerous cookbooks, but CT is the best chef in the band.
They perfectly ended the set with the call and response of “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)” and are making their way back to Coachella for weekend two. The full session, engineered by Neil Dorfsman, will air on Morning Becomes Eclectic on May 15.
Vampire Weekend Live on KCRW – Set List
I Stand Corrected
One (Blake’s Got a New Face)