Last Night

Vampire Weekend at the Fonda: More Songs About Language and Taxis

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Wed, Jan 13, 2010 at 10:00 AM

Check out Timothy Norris' photo gallery for scenes from last night's show.

In the schoolyard world of rock & roll, it's easy to see why Vampire Weekend gets picked on. Looking so meek, so intellectual, so teacher's pet, the band -- from suburban New York, no less -- looks the very antithesis of rebellion. They're more like an after-school study group than the most buzzed-out American band of the past few years. To posturing, jeans-and-Tee rock stars and the writers who love them, the temptation to dismiss these scrawny little East Coast pups is great. Motorhead would eat these guys for breakfast.

click to enlarge Guitarist Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend - TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Timothy Norris
  • Guitarist Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend

At the peak of their rise from blog-rock fame to NPR-rock fame, they annoyed me, too. Hated their V-neck sweaters and their deck shoes, hated their precious lyrics and their cultural imperialist guitar licks. I thought they had come up with a great shtick: the 00s version of the Kingston Trio.

click to enlarge The crowd at the Fonda don't care 'bout no cultural imperialism - TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Timothy Norris
  • The crowd at the Fonda don't care 'bout no cultural imperialism

But then, where would KISS be without the make-up? Where would Run DMC be without the Adidas and chains, Bob Dylan without his mussed-up hair and knit scarf, Lil Wayne without his face tattoo, Taylor Swift without her smile and flowing mane?

So Vampire Weekend are white dudes making white dude pop rock. So were the Talking Heads, and they were ripe and funky. Kraftwerk -- Germans! -- created some of the most important riddims in American hip hop. The list goes on, and how can we dismiss a band based on their fashion choices and genetic makeup?

click to enlarge Vampire Weekend, phase II - TIMOTHY NORRIS
  • Timothy Norris
  • Vampire Weekend, phase II

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