South By Southwest brings thousands of bands to Austin, but only one of them made it to the ACL stage this year. Vampire Weekend is a band we’ve been talking about having on the show for some time, and thanks to SXSW the time was right. The NYC band has been receiving accolades since it first emerged several years ago. Arriving at the ACL stage for its debut taping on the final night of the festival, Vampire Weekend did not disappoint.
One of the things for which the band has become known is its penchant for blending Afropop with British/American jangle pop, and its ability to do that was in full flower tonight. “White Sky,” “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” and the hit “Holiday” displayed impressive musicianship in playing the tricky polyrhythms and intricate melodies, while not stinting on the irrepressible melodies. Afropop is only one arrow in the band’s quiver, however. The quartet mixed in ska rhythms for “M79,” jangled forthrightly in the more straightforward “Oxford Comma” and worked a less genre-specific tropical groove on “Cousins” and the monster hit “A-Punk,” the latter of which brought on the crowd’s biggest roar. The group got even more diverse in the songs it previewed from its upcoming LP Modern Vampires of the City: “Unbelievers” eschewed worldbeat for upbeat pop played on Farfisa organ and nylon-string guitar, “Ya Hey” soaked itself in electro rhythms and otherworldly atmosphere and “Diane Young” simply rocked out.
With sixteen songs in 70 minutes, Vampire Weekend kept its melodies and rhythms flowing with tight efficiency and maximum fun. We can’t wait for you to see this episode when it airs in the fall as part of our 39th Season. Stay tuned.