Vampire Weekend at The Hollywood Bowl

This past Wednesday (6/12), indie rock band Vampire Weekend stopped at the Hollywood Bowl for a sold out show as a part of their ‘Only God Was Above Us’ Tour. Nearly five years since their last tour, the band returned to the Bowl in support of their latest album, the expansive Only God Was Above Us

Their set began in minimal fashion, the trio performed in front of a banner emblazoned with their iconic logo. Quickly, they ran through early tracks (but bangers no less), including: “Holiday,” “Cousins,” and “Boston (Ladies of Cambridge).” A quick refresher of their early, preppy days. 

As lead singer Ezra Koenig strummed along into “Ice Cream Piano,” the stage expanded into the full set complete with a huge tunnel facade (that was sorta reminiscent of Dune) and a larger band. VW delved straight into songs from their latest record making use of the whole band to flesh out its expansive, orchestral arrangements. 

Newer tracks like “Ice Cream Piano,” “Connect,” and “The Surfer ” sounded truly exceptional. The jazzier, baroque moments were quite lovely and the Hollywood hills provided an exquisite backdrop to the experience. The whole band played with a level of musicianship that was mind-numbing (in the best way, of course) as their songs seem to expand into greater heights. Hearing these tracks through Spotify does not compare to the sheer awesome-ness of hearing it live. The complex riffs and melodies were played effortlessly and their beauty really shined when wafting through the sweet summer air. 

Though the band has not been in the spotlight for a few years, it was nice to be reminded of how many great songs they have packed into their discography. The audience really perked up when VW played classics from the 2010s, such as “A-Punk,” “White Sky,” and “Diane Young.” My only complaint: they should’ve played more songs from 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City

Promoted as “Ska Night,” the show openers included ska acts such as SoCal natives Voodoo Glow Skulls and the ‘80s British act, the English Beat. VW themselves included ska-ified versions of their songs including “Giving Up the Skun,” “Skaflower,” and “Skattomen.” 

The encore included a performance of “The Night is Dangerous” from the Netflix show, You Need to Leave (and Tim Robinson made a cameo with Koenig calling him a “piece of shit.”) The band even took requests for impromptu covers including a couple of Steely Dan tracks, the Grateful Dead’s “Touch of Grey,”  and a bare-bones rendition of the B-52’s “Rock Lobster.” 

With their heyday behind them, Vampire Weekend have become veterans who thrive on chill energy and genuinely seem to be enjoying themselves on stage. Their performance is slightly quirky (but then again they’ve always been this way) and they don’t take themselves too seriously. Yet, this does not downgrade their excellent musicianship and performance. I almost forgot what a damn good band Vampire Weekend is–and they seem to only be getting better as they age. 


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