Tuesday, October 05, 2010

"Like the Future Was Supposed to Be"

We forked over the five dollars to park on the grass near Starlight Theatre and scurried down the damp hill until we came upon a very long line of giddy high school kids, parents and middle schoolers, groups of ladies out for a girls' night, couples in their twenties and thirties, and lots and lots of roving packs of high school kids. Did I mention all the high school kids? All patiently lined up waiting for the doors to open, because Saturday night was Vampire Weekend's first Kansas City performance, and we got there just early enough to catch decent seats and get settled in.

Actually Alive in the 1980's

The crowd

We spent the extra hour we had before the show started doing one of the very best things: people watching. The eighties are back, my friends. But instead of looking ridiculous like I did, these 15 year olds look sophisticated and clever. The eighties fashion somehow works now.  The busy patterns, the leggings and belts, the bright colors, the tunic sweaters, somehow it all looks cute when restyled and remixed. This young concert crowd looks like the offspring of the cast of Pretty in Pink, thankfully more Ducky than Blane. But we weren't the only people actually alive in the 80's in attendance. It was a nicely varied crowd, and surprisingly family friendly. The family seated in front of us, parents in their late 40's brought their 10 year old son, and once Vampire Weekend took the stage all three of them sang along with every word and danced in the aisles. It was charming.

Beach House- strange glowing pyramids

Killing some time, I chatted up my seatmate while Joe ran off to get drinks. Indie seatmate (I never did ask his name, that would have been weird) actually ran into the lead singer, Ezra Koenig, down on the Plaza Saturday afternoon. He said Mr. Koenig was actually quite nice in person, which frankly was a relief, since I hate it when you find out that celebrities are total dill holes. Then you're stuck with this crappy impression of them that pops into your head every time you try to enjoy their movie or album or book. I hate that. But let's get to the music, because we didn't go to the concert just to talk to plaid shirted Converse wearing strangers and watch insolent teenagers wait in the merchandise line (the incredibly long merchandise line, in sharp contrast to the nonexistent line for the bar.)We went for the music, and were not disappointed.

Vampire Weekend tearing it up

That scrim was so cool

The two opening acts were The Very Best and Beach House. Joe and I had never heard of either band before so we weren't sure what to expect.  The Very Best was fantastic. I have a deep love for West African art and culture and listening to The Very Best took me back to my college trips to the Ivory Coast and Ghana. It was energizing and an inventive combination of African and French language melodies sung by a charismatic young man from Malawi, then mixed over his French DJ's electronica and hip hop choices. (Joe just told me that the DJ's name is Etienne Tron, stellar.)Wonderful. Beach House was also strong, but didn't seem to be as good a fit with the Vampire Weekend crowd. A more nuanced, melancholy, romantic indie rock than Vampire Weekend's sunny bouncy pop sensibilities. I think I would have liked Beach House in a smaller intimate venue where I could actually see their faces. The lighting was way too dim, so they just looked like silhouettes against their glowing pyramids. I would have rather seen their faces than the mysterious shadow people, but whatever, bring on Vampire Weekend.

They played a very tight 75 minute set. Song after glorious catchy effervescent happy preppy African tinged song.  Plus throw in a Bruce Springsteen cover, which I'm guessing only 1/3 of the crowd even knew was Bruce, and it was an exhilarating show. We danced for 75 minutes, bouncing and bopping and singing along, staring out at a sea of happy active lively fans. Fans, like me, who didn't seem to care whether critics think that Vampire Weekend is ripping off Paul Simon's Graceland, they aren't, or whether they simply make snotty privileged Ivy League pop songs, they don't, they make beautiful, fun, well-crafted, well-written, infectious, indie pop/rock songs and they are becoming masters of their craft. I can't wait to see them on their second trip through town.

Excellent set list below, only missing a few Joe favorites. I embarrassingly can never remember the actual names of their songs, so I nerdily wrote down whatever lyric I could remember on my iPhone and actually had to look up the correct names later. Only so I can make my own concert playlist. Told you I was a nerd.

White Sky-lyrics on scrim behind
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
I Stand Corrected
California English
Taxi cab
A Punk
One or Blake's got a new face
Cover of Bruce Springsteen's I'm Going Down
Diplomat's Son
Giving Up the Gun-tech problems stopped
Oxford Comma
Mansard Roof

Yes, my mouth is nearly always open
Some photos by Joe, some by me, all pretty iPhone mediocre. And yes, I hardly ever shut my mouth, especially in pictures.


Katrina said...

I love concerts!! The energy of them is so awesome!! I can't remember the last concert I went to...it was either DMB or Sting. I am super stoked for my upcoming concerts though!! Lady Gaga in March and u2 in May!! CAN'T WAIT!!

I also love that you make a concert play list. Great idea to make a mix later to make the concert last longer!! I may have to steal that idea! :)

kassie lou said...

Ooh, I'd love to go to both of those shows!