If Vampire Weekend proved one thing with their performance at Red Rocks on Friday it’s that they’ve come a long way since I saw them open for Shout Out Louds at the Rickshaw Stop in San Francisco. The preppy indie band from New York performed for a few hundred people that night and I think we only lasted a few songs into their set before going outside to smoke and bullshit about other things. They didn’t exactly demand attention.
They have come a long way, but maybe not as far as they think. The line-up on Friday read like a Stereogum/Pitchfork Best Of list, but even with Dum Dum Girls and Beach House in tow, Vampire Weekend could not fill the amphitheatre. From the 25th row, this was fine by me, but I’m thinking the promoters would have been better off booking this show at the Fillmore.
Dum Dum Girls
Dum Dum Girls opened the night at 7:30pm. The black-clad girls shocked me with their appearance. I am a fan of their debut album and am a huge fan of one track, Baby Don’t Go, but I did not expect them to come out looking like a female Interpol. These girls were sexy, confident and used their 30 minutes to perform as much material as possible with very little talk. Their latest single, Jail La La, along with the aforementioned Baby Don’t Go were highlights, but there wasn’t a bad song in the bunch. This would be a great band to see at Larimer Lounge. At Larimer they would probably garner the respect they deserve. Respect that was lacking, at least in our section of the venue.
Dream popsters Beach House came on around 8:30 and like Dum Dum Girls were only given 30 minutes to prove themselves to the crowd; a crowd that seemed to know (and maybe even respect) Beach House quite a bit more then their predecessors And although I enjoyed their sets equally, I enjoyed Beach House a lot more than when I saw them at the Bluebird Theater earlier in the year. It was a clear, warm evening under the stars between the monoliths and Beach House were the perfect soundtrack. Victoria Legrand‘s voice flowed over the audience and made us realize that time is fleeting and we should savor these summer evenings. Most of their songs are very similar and start to sound the same, but in all reality Beach House could get up there and perform one 30 minute song and I’d be happy.
I have to note here that there was an opening act that was not listed on the bill. One of the security guards took advantage of the old school hip-hop tracks being played in between sets to show off his moves..the Roger Rabbit, Running Man, etc. He had the crowd moving like neither of the opening acts were able to.
Vampire Weekend. I could go on for quite awhile about my love/hate relationship with this band. When I saw them back in San Francisco they hadn’t even released an album yet and they couldn’t hold my interest for more than a few songs on that small stage. Then the album came out and it was pretty good. Pretty good, but critically acclaimed. Critically acclaimed is an understatement. I got so sick of the hype that I turned my back on them.
Then the second album came out and I couldn’t help but like it. In fact, I like it a lot. I still don’t believe they are going to change the face of music, and I don’t believe mixing a little afro-pop into your indie pop is anything groundbreaking…but I do believe they are a fun band and I have fun listening to them.
The Killers, Kings of Leon, The Shins. I thought Vampire Weekend were in their league. I thought everyone knew who Vampire Weekend were. But leading up to this show I met more and more people who hadn’t heard of them. Then I realized that while those other bands can sell-out Red Rocks and larger venues all on their own, Vampire Weekend couldn’t fill the first 50 rows, even with solid opening support.
Now, I’m not judging, I actually think it’s kinda cool that these kids from New York are still small enough that you don’t hear them everywhere you go. I don’t even listen to the radio and somehow popular media still killed Kings of Leon for me!
Even though it was not a packed house, the 5,000 or so people who kicked off their 3-day weekend at Red Rocks got their money’s worth. I didn’t realize how many sing-along songs these guys have and how much fun they can be. 5,000 people on their feet, dancing in the warm Colorado air like they think winter will be here tomorrow and this is the last night before hibernation.
The boys performed every song off their two albums (with the exception of The Kids Don’t Stand A Chance) along with a cover of Springsteen‘s I’m Going Down. The cover was actually the lowlight of the night. Some of the highlights were a heartfelt version of Contra (a song we’ve only performed live once), Run (a song about leaving a place real quick) and Horchata (a song about a Mexican drink in a place that used to be part of Mexico).
Overall, it was a great, if not mind-blowing, night of music. Another great night at Red Rocks and a perfect send off to the warm, clear nights that will be gone before we know it!