Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Vampire Weekend--Turner Hall, Milwaukee, Wisconsin

I’m always a bit wary about going to all ages shows. Although I’ve only legally been allowed to step foot inside of a bar for about two years now, there is nothing I hate more than going to a show full of obnoxious, text-messaging, chatty little high school kids. Call me an ageist, call me whatever you want, it’s the honest truth.

Despite this concern, my unabashed love of Vampire Weekend led me to attend their Milwaukee show on Saturday, as their Chicago show on Sunday at the Metro sold out in roughly five seconds. Yes, Vampire Weekend, that little band that no one had ever heard of a year ago and is now in daily rotation on MTV, modern rock radio, and selling out venues in cities they’ve never been to before.

Case in point: Milwaukee. After driving around looking for parking for twenty minutes and finally giving in and paying $10 to the disgruntled employees of a public lot, I realized that downtown Milwaukee is pretty similar to Chicago. Walking inside the gothic-looking Turner Hall, (fun fact: it was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1996), I noticed another similarity: hipsters, hipsters, and more hipsters, all of who made themselves front and center for opening band, Yacht.

Now, when I say “band,” what I really mean is one guy, a microphone, and a MacBook. With an arsenal of repetitive dance beats, Yacht aka Jona Bechtolt, threw his skinny body around the stage, bopping his head, swaying his arms, and shaking his hips as best as any twenty-seven year old white guy can attempt to do. I don’t know when one guy with a Napoleon Dynamite overbite dancing to prerecorded beats became eligible to be deemed “music,” but apparently no one sent me the memo. I guess the teenaged hipsters got the message though, because their enthusiasm near matched Bechtolt’s. You’d think that someone was holding a dance contest for a lifetime supply of PBR there were that many mustached faces and scrawny American Appareled figures flailing about.

Thankfully, Bechtolt’s set only lasted thirty mortifying minutes, coming to a close around 8:45. With only Vampire Weekend left to play, it dawned on me that this show was going to end extremely early. It was at that point that I started to feel about forty-three instead of twenty-three, and it probably didn’t help that everyone standing in the vicinity of me was barely old enough to vote. About thirty minutes later, the boys of Vampire Weekend nonchalantly strolled on-stage, politely said “Hello,” and kicked off their set with the boppy “Mansard Roof,” the first track from their Self-Titled debut.

Vampire Weekend’s pleasant mannerisms were unfortunately not reflected in the demeanor of the young crowd. They pushed, they shoved, they jumped, they sang louder than Vampire Weekend singer, Ezra Koenig. I had every intention of staying in my spot a few feet back from the barrier, but one can only take so much before they’re forced to step to the side of the unruly crowd. Plus, it was hot as hell. Somebody tell Turner Hall to invest in a proper ventilation system, seriously.

Once I stepped out of the crowd, I was able to really enjoy Vampire Weekend’s set. They played every song from their debut album, as well as the b-side “Ladies of Cambridge.” Classics like “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” “Campus,” and “M79” killed it. Introducing hit single, “A-Punk,” Koenig told the crowd that if they were going to dance to any song, this one was the easiest. The dancing didn’t let up and the whole room seemed to form one writhing mass of waving hands and shaking heads in front of the stage. During “One (Blake’s Got A New Face),” the crowd’s penchant for loud singing paid off as Koenig asked them to sing back the refrain “Blake’s got a new face” to him. They complied and their voices rang out in unison inside the cavernous Turner Hall.

A mere hour after their set started, Vampire Weekend walked off-stage, waited about thirty seconds, and walked back to their spots. Koenig addressed the crowd, telling them that because they have one album out, they only had one remaining song to play from it. That song was “Walcott,” a whirling dervish of a track that closed the night out perfectly with its bouncy keys and catchy chorus about getting the hell out of Cape Cod. As I walked out of Turner Hall nearly four minutes later among all the wide-eyed teenagers, I couldn’t help but wonder when I stopped wanting to go to shows where people jumped and pushed and sang loudly and when I started to be more interested in actually hearing the band I paid money to see. Although I don’t miss being a teenager, I realized that I miss the enthusiasm that teenagers feel at shows, their unbridled eagerness to be as close as possible to the band that they love. That being said though, I’m still going to think twice before attending another all ages show.

--Anna Deem

No comments:

eXTReMe Tracker