I was kind of nervous about watching the sold-out Vampire Weekend show at Turner Hall Ballroom on Saturday, mostly because I didn’t want them to let me down. There’s a lot of hype, backlash, and clothing commentary involved in the band’s coverage so far, but the bottom line is their debut is one of the strongest albums of 2008 so far. Who can blame the band for the mass hysteria surrounding them, ironic or otherwise?
Luckily, the Turner Hall audience didn’t seem to care about hipster hype or backlash. The audience wasn’t even made up of hipsters: It was mostly teenagers in the crowd, chaperoned by their parents. There was a buzz in the air that was heady and reminded me of high school/parish fairs, where audience members would randomly burst into choruses of “Oxford Comma” or “One.” Opener Yacht probably benefited from that anticipation greatly — the crowd was much more receptive because they wanted to let off steam. (BTW, I’m sure everyone knows this already, but it’s still super cool that Yacht’s Jona Bechtolt designed the MacBook Air manila envelope case with his girlfriend.)
With hardly any beards, horn-rimmed glasses or argyle in attendance, it seemed natural that Ezra Koenig and company could give the crowd the show they wanted — energetic, hit-filled, dance-y, with a little bit of a sing-along here and there. It wasn’t mind-blowing, but it was fun.
The first half (“Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” “Mansard Roof,” “Campus”) sounded rougher than the second. By the time Koenig introduced “A Punk” with “If you have to dance to one of our songs, this would be it,” EVERYONE was going wild — and you could tell that no one cared if there were awkward breaks between songs, or Koenig’s voice wasn’t in top form (hey, they’ve been touring a while), or the stage banter was random and unfunny (they want a Brewers shirt, it’s their first time in Milwaukee, Turner Hall is the nicest place they’ve played, yadda yadda yadda).
The boys seemed really nice and polite, and requisitely, the crowd danced through every single bit of it. They also played a new song in the same “West Side Soweto”-style, which wasn’t a marked departure from their hits.
So here’s the verdict: Watching Vampire Weekend at Turner Hall was like going on a first date with a cute boy you’ve always had a faraway crush on. You don’t have that much to talk about (mostly because you’ve already Googled him to death), so there are a lot of uncomfortable silences. And in the end, you just make out so it’s not a total loss, and everyone ends up going home a sweaty mess of fun.
Oh, an in case you were wondering: There wasn’t a single sweater on stage, either. Instead, keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij was wearing an I Heart NY shirt. Unironically, I presumed.