The Studio at Webster Hall
It’s not everyday that you get to see a band with the number one album play live in a small intimate setting. So when by a turn in fate, friend and singer/guitarist of Red Yellow England, Alex Rivera, asked me to tag along in seeing Vampire Weekend play on Thursday afternoon in The Studio at Webster Hall, I jumped at the chance. It was a very exciting place to spend an afternoon since not only is Vampire Weekend’s new album Contra their first number one album (our review here), but according to Billboard and SoundScan, only the 12th independently released album to do so.
This show was part of New York rock radio 101.9 RXP’s studio sessions and as we hoped, Matt Pinfield was in the house with the rest of the RXP crew. The Studio at Webster Hall is relatively small and when maybe sixty people filled the room, Matt grabbed the mic and accompanied by a loud ovation, introduced Vampire Weekend to the stage. Having only seen Vampire Weekend once before, at a festival in 2008, expectations from them in such a different setting were up in the air. Singer Ezra Koenig thanked us for attending and remarked on how playing an afternoon show is rare for them. Starting with “Holiday” off their new album, they worked through a short, but strong and energetic set of songs from their catalogue. Having spent the past two years on the road they seem like a band that have hit their stride by making it look so effortless on stage. Their songs had a lot of punch and once started, never seemed to slow down. Koenig hit all the tricky notes in “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa”, and they also went old-school with “Oxford Comma”. Besides “Holiday”, the other song played from Contra was “Cousins” and as expected these new songs translate well live. “Cousins” will be a crowd pleaser for years to come with a pace that only gets faster, banging drums, and hyper whirling guitar.
Finishing with the always catchy “A-Punk”, the crowd was really into it and would have loved to hang around all afternoon, someone even screamed “Encore!”. When Matt Pinfield grabbed the mic again it seemed over. Anyone who used to watch Matt during his MTV days and listens to RXP in the mornings knows that Mr. Pinfield pretty much knows everything about music, ever. So he did what he does best and left us with a brief commentary and story about rock music, capping off a rare and pleasant afternoon.
Below is some video and photos from the show.
Set-list: Holiday, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, Oxford Comma, Cousins, A-Punk
– Ian Lewis