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Concert Review: Vampire Weekend,  Beach House, The Very Best

By Savanna Stiff posted Oct 15, 2010 at 12:53 PM

Sometime over the summer, I received a tweet alerting me to an impending Vampire Weekend/Beach House visit to the Fillmore. (Some people feel the need to judge me for using Twitter, but I don't even care. Not when you can follow DrunkHulk and Andrew WK.) I let out a half human, half bird-of-prey cry of joy/anguish, which my parents for some reason considered both startling and an inappropriate reaction for the news I had received. As they clearly lacked the capacity to join me in celebration, I called the one person who would understand - my best friend and fellow WVUM DJ Steph Kryzak. Both of us, at a loss for words and possibly crying, reached one conclusion. We were not prepared for this. A few weeks later, a friend asked me to explain Beach House to her. How best to describe the emotion they stir in me? I came up with this:

“If I could make a dagger out of Beach House's music and stab myself with it, I would die the happiest person on earth.”

How was I supposed to emotionally recover enough from Beach House to properly enjoy Vampire Weekend? I had months to deliberate this, and I never reached a conclusion. I made my way to the Fillmore Wednesday night, feeling so happy I thought I might throw up.

The show was opened by The Very Best, a collaboration between Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya and London-based duo Radioclit, represented in performance by Johan Karlberg. Mwamwaya gave an energetic and heartfelt performance, but the act just felt wrong for the Fillmore. The band consisted solely of Mwamwaya singing and Karlberg manipulating his computer and dancing (sort of, I’m not sure if the movements he made with his body counted as dancing; he looked rather like he was reacting to furious tickling). It felt much better suited for a club or festival venue. I assumed, however, that as The Very Best collaborated with Vampire Weekend lead singer Ezra Koenig on “Warm Heart Of Africa,” we were in for the treat of seeing it performed live with Ezra Koenig. Recognizing the first beats of the song, I began to cheer, eagerly awaiting Ezra’s entrance. I had been waiting for this moment—Ezra would ask, “Is hip hop hereditary?” and I would shriek back, “I DON’T KNOW!” This was it. It was about to happen. Then the chorus began, and it was just a recording of Ezra singing. “Okay,” I thought, “they’re making us wait, building up suspense. This is okay, he’ll come on stage any moment and sing along with the recording.” I waited. I craned my neck, hoping to catch a glimpse of him offstage. BUT HE NEVER CAME OUT. WHAT’S UP WITH THAT? I felt betrayed, but fortunately this emotion was immediately overshadowed by others brought on by… 


Their performance was flawless. They began their set with “Gila” from their sophomore album Devotion. By the time Victoria Legrand began to croon the next song, “Walk in the Park,” I was ready to name my firstborn Beach House. The child wouldn’t resent that, right?

Almost all music sounds better loud, but Beach House’s dreamy, oversaturated sound is especially suited to a large venue setting. Legrand’s haunting, ethereal voice was rich and satisfyingly true to album quality. The performance went on to include the rest of their most recent LP, Teen Dream, except for the songs “Real Love” and “Lover Of Mine.”

In my obsessive anticipation for Beach House, I managed to forget just how much I love Vampire Weekend. Beach House was beautiful and unreal, but you can dance to Vampire Weekend. And dance we did. The band walked on stage to the song “All I Do Is Win” by DJ Khaled, (“Every time I step in the building everybody hands go up!”) which could have come off as conceited if it had been almost anybody but the oxford-and-tie-dye clad quartet.

The music started with “Holiday” and “White Sky,” then bounced back and forth between both of their two albums for the rest of the show. Before playing “Mansard Roof,” their second to last song, Ezra gave us specific dancing instructions: “After years of playing this song, we’ve discovered it works best if you put your hands in the air and wiggle your fingers.” He expressed confidence in our ability to hold our hands up for the entire song, adding that it is their shortest, but I still saw most people give up. Guys. When Ezra Koenig tells you to wiggle your fingers, YOU WIGGLE YOUR DAMN FINGERS. They finished the show, like all of their shows, with “Walcott,” a song integral to the band’s name. It is based on a short film called “Vampire Weekend” that Ezra made early in his college years about a boy named Walcott (shocking!) who is being pursued by vampires in Cape Cod.

I saw them perform their first Miami show back in 2008 when they didn’t have enough music to fill an hour. This time they seemed determined to make up for it and played all but three of their songs. According to some hasty addition I just did using itunes, that’s over an hour of music. Not many bands put on such long shows, so on behalf of the people of Miami, gracias, Vampire Weekend. All you do is win, win, win.

Favorite Quote: “I want to wish a happy birthday to everyone in the world with birthdays today. That’s a lot of birthdays.” –Victoria Legrand

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