Photos by Morgan Winston
By: Mercy Xiong, Contributing Writer
After a six-year hiatus, Vampire Weekend brought to life their fourth album Father of the Bride at The Sylvee. This was a night for the coasties, anyone who has ever uttered the words “I could’ve gone to an Ivy League,” indie kids in bucket hats, dads that smoke weed with their kids and voted for Bernie, English professors, and people who wear Tevas with socks. But, if you’re me, it was a night for people who think they’re “over any artist they listened to in high school” — and who drink warm PBRs.
Vampire Weekend has changed considerably since their last album, Modern Vampires of the City (released in 2013). Co-founding member and the man who contributed immensely to Vampire Weekend’s earlier pivotal sounds, Rostam Batmanglij, departed from the band to pursue solo work in 2016. Drummer Chris Tomson released a solo project under the pseudonym Dams of the West that same year. Bassist Chris Baio got married and followed suit in releasing solo projects. Frontman Ezra Koenig became a father and dropped a Netflix anime, entitled “Neo Yokio,” with Jaden Smith in 2017.
With the departure of Batmanglij and troubled by the long hiatus, many longtime fans were concerned as to how the band was going to perform live. To everyone’s delight: they did not disappoint.
As a giant globe hovered above center stage, Vampire Weekend played a total of 26 songs, which was enough to cover their expansive discography. From fan favorites like “Diane Young,” “Oxford Comma,” and “Hannah Hunt” to the SBTRKT featuring Koenig song “NEW DORP. NEW YORK,” to performing the newest material off of Father Of the Bride, there was something in there for every fan, whether they identified as an OG or were new to the scene. Extended outros played between “Sunflower” and “A-Punk” reanimated the songs, giving new life to some of our favorite tunes.
Although Koenig did not talk much during the two-hour set, his playful, meme-y stage presence was unquestionably felt. Before playing a cover of Bob Dylan’s “Jokerman,” Koenig teased that the song inspired one of the greatest fonts of all time. (However, was he really joking since almost all the promotional material for Father of the Bride was done in Jokerman?)
The most memorable part of the night was the encore when the band took song requests only from individuals in bucket hats (which only indie boys were wearing!). Of course, some sneaky fans knew this and sported their best bucket hats in preparation. As the crowd screamed at the stage, Koenig finally picked a man who requested they play “Ask Me Anything” by The Strokes, to which they responded by playing a small riff from The Strokes’ “Reptilia.” Ultimately, they moved on to play their very own “Diplomat’s Son,” per someone else’s request.
Father of the Bride is the album of the summer. Vampire Weekend has undeniably proved this to be fact, considering the perfect setlist, extended jam sessions between songs and, of course, the bucket hats.
Supporting Vampire Weekend this tour run is LA-based quartet Chicano Batman. Dressed in suits, they opened the night with some soulful, funky jams. Although the crowd wasn’t fully invested in the 45-minute set, the band powered through and gave an energetic performance.