Vampire Weekend - Rockness - Gigs - Reviews - Soundblab

Vampire Weekend - Rockness

by Louise Harlow Rating: Release Date:

"This is a great day for American-Scottish relations," a perky Ezra Koening beams at the last night main stage crowd. Err, well it's no musical Entente Cordiale, but if transatlantic conviviality equates to pogo-ing round a Loch to an American-biased line-up then yesSir, this is a good'un.

Occupying the dusk-straddling penultimate main stage slot, Vampire Weekend are the perfect agents to carry us through the day's final breaks of sun and into the night that promises us the live return of The Strokes. Koening and his Brooklyn cohorts are brimming with boyish exuberance as they bound through harpsichord and synth-based spiff and re-animate a young crowd perhaps previously left adrift by the old worldly charms of Blondie's preceding set.

The band's sustained flirtation with African pop nuances on 2009's sophomore album Contra has done little to silence righteous rumblings about the moral wisdom of strapping lyrics chronicling the lives of America's over-privileged to the musical idioms of the world's poorest nations. Personally, I feel they have been unfairly lambasted for seeking out a wider sphere of influences, which has been done in the past to a congratulatory reception. (Anyone know the one about Elvis's house? Nah, me neither.) And so it was a cockle-warmer to watch them release a winning set of their Contra and Vampire Weekend oeuvre to a boisterous and receptive Rockness crowd.

Contra standout track 'White Sky' translates effortlessly from the studio to the stage, and is the perfect three minute reminder of what we would be missing had Koenig cow-towed to his detractors. His melodic yelps shower over the ricochet of producer Rostam Batmanglij's buoyant synths, as an unlikely narrative about the secret lives of Manhattanites unfolds. It's all a bit silly but who cares when it sounds this good?

That said, it's undoubtedly the established material from the eponymous Vampire Weekend release of 2008 which starts fires at the main stage. Basking in the swell of "U-S-A, U-S-A" chants rippling around the crowd, and backed by a stars and stripes clad drummer, Koenig gives a preparatory brief on the vocal intricacies of the yelping refrain of 'One (Blake's Got a New Face)'. The dubious art of the rock ringmaster has been lying dormant ever since the crowd-inciting tendencies of Freddie Mercury, but it was surprisingly pleasant to see Koenig engaging with his fans with such refreshing and enthusiastic modesty. A high-spirited delivery of 'A-Punk' also hits the spot, endowed as it is with that exuberant circulating guitar hook and the insistent 2Oi Oi Oi Oi!" cat-call that never feels more inherent than when you're tossing around a field in the company of 10 thousand optimally liquored up Scots.

And so the quartet brought their shipshape 60 minute turn to a close, as the preppy poster-girl of Contra's album sleeve shot out her eerie laser-lit gaze over Rockness. Leaving a highly jazzed crowd ripe for plucking by the nigh-due Strokes, let's hope Casablancas at the very least proffered a warm can in return for services to Scottish party stoking.

Rockness photos by Louise Goodliffe and Dani Frisby.

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