Vampire Weekend: Live review

April 10, 2014, Article by Tom in Live reviews, Music

Vampire Weekend perform at the Roundhouse, Camden, as part of the month-long iTunes festival.

It’s a strange beast, the iTunes Festival. 30 days of free gigs from world-famous acts like Arctic Monkeys, Justin Timberlake, Lady Gaga and Sir Elton John sounds amazing. But no matter how good the act is, the actual gigs themselves can be a little lacklustre, and not necessarily due to any fault of the artists themselves.

On a damp and wintery Sunday evening, New York’s finest alt rock/afrobeat/pop quartet Vampire Weekend rolled into town, with their gig marking the halfway point in this year’s festival. Tight, polished and a lot of fun, they delivered a frenetic set that packed in the hits from their three excellent albums.

Kicking off with the disgustingly infectious recent single Diane Young, lead singer Ezra Koenig kept onstage chatter to a minimum as the band raced through their set. They played a healthy chunk of material from their latest album Modern Vampires of the City, with Ya Hey being a particular highlight. In fact, whilst the songs from the first album still sounded fresh, the band really seem to have upped their game with the new album, with each song being a lot more multi-layered and ambitious.

If there was any criticism of the band, then perhaps they were a little too perfect. Every song sounded almost identical to how it does on the record, with a nice segue from Campus in to Oxford Comma being the only deviation.

If the band were great, what went wrong? Basically, the crowd were rubbish. With tickets available for free by lottery, the majority of punters apply for every gig, regardless of whether they are really a fan of the act. I can’t complain, I did it too, but thankfully I didn’t win tickets for Rizze Kicks.

As a result of this, the crowd were flat, with many even leaving after the band had played probably their biggest hit, A-Punk. It was telling that early B-side Boston, which usually gets a massive reaction at their gigs, was greeted with virtual silence. Similarly, the old ‘filming a gig on your mobile’ thing was a big problem here. Sure, I took a few photos, but several people had their iPads held aloft for the majority of the set, spending their time staring at a screen rather than watching the band.

It was a shame as you couldn’t really ask for more from the band’s performance, and the venue itself is one of the best in London, but you just came away thinking about how good it could have been.

You can watch the full set for free on the iTunes store

Vampire Weekend played:

Diane Young
White Sky
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
Everlasting Arms
California English
Diplomat’s Son
Boston (Ladies of Cambridge)
Ya Hey
Oxford Comma
Obvious Bicycle


Hannah Hunt
One (Blake’s Got a New Face)