[HYBRID INDIE POP] There’s a mold for successful indie bands: catchy hooks, sexy vocals, foot-thumping beats. Vampire Weekend spills over that mold. That’s right, Vampire Weekend breaks the levees of indie rock. How, you may ask, does a preppy, cardigan-wearing quartet from New York set itself apart from all its preppy, cardigan-wearing NYC brethren? Vampire Weekend’s catchy pop stylings—these guys live in the same musical neighborhood as Austin’s Spoon—are great, but it’s the Afrobeat and ska influences that cause a near-deadly overflow of awesome.
Cuts off VW’s self-titled debut are all clean as a whistle, the band rocking with ridiculous precision. Drummer Chris Tomson taps away at his snare kit with the exactness of a brain surgeon, and the way frontman Ezra Koenig carefully picks at his guitar keeps these Weekenders almost neurotically accurate. Koenig’s clear tenor rings over the band’s careful mix, but it’s the offbeat interplay between Tomson and Koenig that gives Vampire Weekend its Afro-ska feel (I’m not the first to note there’s a little of Paul Simon’s Graceland in the VW mix). Since the debut’s January release, the band has been touring exhaustively—even taking Portland beat master YACHT with it on a jaunt through about half these United States. This is the biggest venue Vampire Weekend has tackled in Portland, but then the band’s big, impeccably played tunes have always seemed fit for the big stage.