Yes, I’ve been busy with my study lately — assignments and surveys, to be precise. But those shall not prevent me from watching the hyped-round-the-year Vampire Weekend show on Bengkel Night Park, 24 October 2010. Can I make window in the schedule to roll over there just to watch it? Of course. Then I went. Was it awesome? Absolutely.
Seriously, I didn’t follow the hype around them when they first released their eponymous debut album back in 2008 because, um, a band that managed to put a photo of a chandelier in their album artwork can’t be that good, can it? Fast forward to 2010, I listened to Contra and got all sorts of hooked with it and also their debut material. Though I can’t imagine how some of their slow, minimalistic songs would hold up in their live performances, so there can only be one way to prove it.
There was already a crowd in front of Bengkel by the time I arrived with my gf and friends at some time past six, and the gathering at the place were… the definitive ‘indie’ crowd, I’d say, from a fashion perspective. It’s when you realized that when all the guys and girls with slightly-weird-clothing you see everyday gathered in one place, they’re still just another batch of mass product. Girls with their striped shirts and pixie cuts and guys with the Ray-Bans… well, it’s fashion, nothing is original except you’re a Gaga with a ready-to-roast meat dress. I could go on rambling but let’s just start with the show.
There was a tremendous amount of waiting, pardon me for the exaggeration, before finally Monkey to Millionaire stepped up as the opening band. It seems like the demographic of Vampire Weekend listeners is half the world away from the Monkey to Millionaire’s, because nearly nobody I saw was excited seeing them performing, or I just stood in the wrong part of the crowd. Slowly but sure the performance turned into quite a bore because I don’t listen to them either — but hey, even some girls keep shouting “Vampire Weekend!” at the last half of their performance. Oh, wait, the girls shouting were foreigners. Highly annoying Caucasians ‘coo coo’-ing throughout the whole show, but nevermind. The audience only sparked up a bit when they play their most recognizable song, “Strange Is the Song in Our Conversation” featuring Marsha as the female lead, but even that didn’t hold up. When they finished to the high expectation from the crowd of Vampire Weekend, the sound crews took a shitload of time setting up the instruments for the main menu of the night. Hell, I even fell asleep sitting crosslegged on the venue floor until all of the sudden four guys grabbed their equipments, strumming up to the tune of…
“Holiday”! A great opening to heat the mood up, everyone was jumping on their feet singing “To go away on a summer’s day never seemed so clear…” forgetting that the city has been jammed with ferocious flooding rain for days. Next is the slower “White Sky” where the crowd joined Ezra Koenig vocalizing the no-lyrics chorus, followed by “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”. The guys were very active for a four-piece band, dancing and jumping in between songs when they could. Chris Baio should be held in high regard that he didn’t just “stand there and play bass” like so many bassists out there, a good mark for the band. “I Stand Corrected” was up next, though it’s a tad weird to play such slow song early in the game, but more annoying was the guy behind me who didn’t know the lyrics at all but keep on singing “I stain kow-righted” anyway like a Mongolian losing his translator. After “M79” and “Bryn” Koenig shouted “Indonesia!” through his vocoder and started playing the fast “California English” to the dancing crowd, followed by a great performance of “Cousins” that would be replayed over and over in my head whenever the song shows up when I’m setting up my team in PES 2011.
Right after “Run”, to the audience that were starting to get tired from all the jumparound, Koenig asked whether they are still having a good time because up next is their “easiest song to dance to”. Yes, they played “A-Punk”, much to the excitement of the folks to get back on dancing again. Rostam, who keep switching around between guitar and keyboard, was really enjoying his time on stage dancing round with his eyes closed when not playing, appropriate enough for a guy with Batman for a middle name. Past “One (Blake’s Got a New Face)”, the slow “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance”, and “Diplomat’s Son”, the guys played a great rendition of the already great “Giving Up the Gun”, and some people were waving A3 sized white-on-black letterings of “GO ON”, creating an unforgettable moment as Koenig sang “I see you shine in your way, go on, go on, go on…” kudos to whoever handed them out.
“Campus” was up next, one of their most seemingly blatant love song, satisfying some part of the crowd who keep on shouting campus for them to play. They left the stage after “Oxford Comma”, and after moments of people lauding we want more, they’re back strumming “Horchata” on stage. The last two songs were “Mansard Roof” and “Walcott”… they finally left the stage for good, leaving behind a smiling crowd of audience fully satisfied and tired from all the dancing. Vampire Weekend really tops the rating for entertaining their crowd. Regrets are for those choosing not to see them live!