Vampire Weekend, .
Laura Prior 17/02/2010
"This one goes out to the undergrad students out there, and all the post-grads chasing that PHD!", Vampire Weekend's Erza Keonig chirps before playing a double-prep-whammy of "Campus" and "Oxford Comma", semi-knowingly. It's this mix of clever-clever student arrogance, "appreciation" of non-strictly Western, white guitar music and unashamadly earnest enthusiasm which would hypocritically perish their sacs in a blender if they came from oh, say, Battle and called themselves Keane.
It seems like the most obvious point in the world, but if Vampire Weekend were English and not American, everyone would hate their guts. Since they're soooOC though, have tufty hair like Kurt from Glee and - more importantly - a bejillion amazing songs, everyone's rightly up their bums all over the world. They're a boffin, musical hybrid of Beach Boys, Radiohead and a mercifully unhateful version of the twats at your uni who used pretentious words out of context all the time, listening to reggae and whose parents owned second homes in Cornwall.
Tonight in Brixton Academy though, they're tight, effortlessly suave and attract the curiousity of Radiohead's Ed O'Brien and - oh! - Adam Buxton, c/o "Adam & Joe". Opener "White Sky"'s chorus of ectsatic falsetto squealing is Sigur Ros being tickled into ecstasy, and along with "California English" demonstrates tufty Erza's giddy readiness to wiggle his voice around the place.
They're such fun, live and on CD, that a 15% reduction in bangers on Contra doesn't affect tonight as much as it could. Even slightly limp noodles like "Run", and bit-too-blunt new single "Giving up the Gun" are rendered passable with the spectacle of cool chandelier lights, assorted instrumentalists and amended backdrop of the Contra art, with piercing red/green LED lights occasionally possessing that plummy girl's eyes like that Exorcist girl. Plus, the singer talks bollocks all the way through which is always corny yet entertaining
A good and bad thing is they play everything you want them to, and everything you don't. The whizzing, drunk pan-pipe-breakdown of "A-Punk", lovely call-and-surf-yell wiggler "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" and MIA sampling "Diplomat's Son" are as exciting as songs like "Taxi Cab", "One (Blake's got a new face)" and "Ottman" are boring. The latter is played as part of a four encore bonanza, and luckily isn't the last tune. "Walcott" is. That was better.
They're maybe a bit too cocksure, but they're still more exciting and wicked than all the other boys in checked shirts and fluffy hair, still dreaming they're in Catcher in the Rye.