Vampire Weekend @ Roseland Ballroom NYC

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Vampire Weekend Get Cinematic at NYC Roseland Ballroom

Vampire Weekend returned to New York on Sunday, April 28th for a sold-out show directed by Steve Buscemi for the Tribeca Film Festival’s #amexUNSTAGED series, where they played 19 songs, including new ones from their highly anticipated album “Modern Vampires Of The City.”

Vampire Weekend is an American indie rock band from New York City formed in 2006. They are currently signed to XL Recordings. The band consists of four members: lead vocalist and guitarist Ezra Koenig, guitarist/keyboardist and backing vocalist Rostam Batmanglij, drummer and percussionist Chris Tomson, and bassist and backing vocalist Chris Baio. The band released its first album Vampire Weekend in 2008, which produced the singles “Mansard Roof”, “A-Punk”, “Oxford Comma”, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”, and “The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance”. The band’s second album, Contra, was released in 2010. Their third studio album, Modern Vampires of the City, will be released on May 14, 2013.

Formation and rise to fame (2006–2007)

Members of the band met while matriculating at Columbia University in New York City, beginning with a rap collaboration between Koenig and Tomson. They bonded over a shared love of punk rock and African music, and Koenig toured with The Dirty Projectors during a period of experimentation with African music, inspiring the band to incorporate world sounds into their earliest work. The band chose the name “Vampire Weekend” from the title of a short film project Koenig worked on during the summer between freshman and sophomore years in college. While home for the summer, Koenig watched a 1980s vampire film and was inspired to make a Northeastern version of the film in which a man named Walcot travels to Cape Cod to warn the mayor that vampires are attacking the United States. Koenig abandoned the project after two days. The band began playing shows around Columbia University, starting with a battle of the bands at Lerner Hall. After graduating from college, the band self-produced their debut album while simultaneously working full-time jobs, Tomson as a music archivist and Koenig as a middle school English teacher.

In 2007, Vampire Weekend’s song “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” was ranked 4th on Rolling Stone’s list of the “100 Best Songs of the Year.” In November 2007, they toured the UK with The Shins. Success came to the band in the now common form of blog hype and internet buzz, built during the year that their album was on the internet before its official release. The internet attention led to a large prerelease following, which in fact enabled them to go on three full tours before their debut album dropped. They were declared “The Year’s Best New Band” by Spin magazine in the March 2008 issue, and were the first band to be shot for the cover of the magazine before releasing their debut album. Four songs from the band’s first album also made the Triple J Hottest 100, 2008. The internet hype had its backlash, however, as critics reacted against a perceived image of Vampire Weekend as privileged, upper-class Ivy League graduates stealing from foreign musicians. One critic went so far as to call Vampire Weekend the “whitest band in the world,” to which they took exception, given their Ukrainian, Persian, Italian, and Hungarian heritages. Koenig responded in a November 2009 interview by saying, “Nobody in our band is a WASP.” Furthermore, the backlash involving their social backgrounds was largely unfounded, as Koenig explained in the interview that the band members got into Columbia on scholarship and used student loans; he himself was still paying off student loans in 2009. Such reactions were not repeated for later world music-inspired musicians, suggesting Vampire Weekend may have cleared the way for their style of fusion.

All concert photos by Ashley Mungo.

Sources: Youtube, Wikipedia, Google, Ashley Mungo, Coachella 2013

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