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Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Vampire Weekend On Holy Ground (I'll always Kwassa Kwassa 4 u)

Warning: Picture heavy post

Nineteen days ago, exactly nineteen days ago, I witnessed Vampire Weekend live. That's right, I saw them in person, up front, nice and close, on a stage, performing music I've been obsessed with since the 9th grade. Was I emotionally stable? Not at all. It was awesome.

We arrived about 2 hours early for the show, but even that wasn't enough time to beat the hipsters as there was already a pack of people pushing to the front of the stage. Regardless, we arrived just in time because we got an awesome view, and thankfully, there weren't too many tall people standing in front of us. My general rule is that if you can see the performer's facial expressions, you have a good view. And we had just that.

After what seemed like a never ending night of waiting, Vampire Weekend appeared five minutes early (thank God, because my last bus was supposed to come soon after the show).  The first one on the stage was Rostam, wearing a blue jacket, who positioned himself and his array of instruments on the left side of the stage, he was followed by the rest of the band. Ezra, front and center, CT on drums, right behind Ezra, and Chris Baio, who was right in front of me, on the right.

 They kicked off their almost an hour and a half performance with Cousins. The crowd was a perfect mix of rowdy teenagers and people who just wanted to appreciate the music, meaning that there was no pushing and shoving, it was serene.  I was so happy that they decided to perform not only some of my favorite tracks from Modern Vampires of The City, but their early music from Contra and Vampire Weekend as well. I've been a Vampire Weekend since grade 9, about 4 years now, and although I NEVER EVER thought I'd be seeing them in concert in Ottawa (of all the places!), I would have hoped that they would play some of their early music that made me become a fan. What truly made the performance special was the attention to detail. The set was decorated in floral, just like the side panel of the album with a huge mirror in the middle that reflected various images throughout the show. But my favourite part was the light show. Every song had a different light pattern and I couldn't help but think it was referring to the meaning of the song. When there were mentions of Heaven the lights would throw beams from the top of the stage to the bottom, where the fans were. It went dark during mentions of death. The lights went red and spastic during Giving Up The Gun. It was trippy and beautiful.

Of all 4 members, I would have said Chris Baio is the one to watch. He seems to be the most energetic and danc-y of all four (CT is kind of chilling behind the drums so I can't really count him). He was making eye contact with the crowd (pretty sure we shared a look), dancing and just showing us that he was having as much fun as us.  The live show allowed me to have a much larger appreciation for Rostam Batmanglij. He was switching from instrument to instrument like it was nothing, and harmonizing so perfectly with Ezra that it hurt. Harmonies that I'd never even notices were being played on the stage that I now consider holy ground. And although VW's music can sometimes be all over the places, Ezra never missed a note. Never (that I noticed, at least). Throughout the show you could see Ezra and Rostam sipping out of coffee cups (but you never know) and I was just...seriously? HA!

At around the time their set was supposed to finish, Ezra apologized on behalf of the band for taking so long to come to Ottawa and they left the stage. It seemed ridiculous to us, and so we called them back out. We cheered for an encore for about 4 minutes until they came back out on stage for about three more songs, and then they left the stage properly that time. One of my favorite moments of the show was when Rostam was playing the final notes of what I think was Hannah Hunt, and he played the wrong key. We knew it. He knew it. He knew we knew it, and we all chuckled for a moment, and instead of finishing the song like it was supposed to end, he played a few off keys and we all enjoyed the moment together. They left the stage by throwing their guitar picks and drum sticks into the crowd and calling it a night.

I took a moment for myself during the concert to just look around and appreciate the experience. I understood 2 things about Vampire Weekend at that point; Vampire Weekend will provide a perfect rendition of their music, and it is up to you to make the best of it. There is no hype man during the show telling you to jump, its up to yourself and the crowd to make the best of what it is. And if you want to dance your heart out, dance. If you want to sing your heart out, sing. But if you just want to stand there and listen to Vampire Weekend, then listen. You take your time, young lion.

*All photos were taken by myself and Jasmine , feel free to use them but please credit them!


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