Monday, April 7, 2008

Creatures of the Night

Photo credit: Esther White

The Metro was hot last night in all senses of the word. “Hot,” as in temperature wise, from the sold out crowd packing themselves into the usually spacious venue and “hot,” in keeping with the lingo of our times, to describe the night’s performers. Finishing the last leg of their American tour before hopping across the pond, Vampire Weekend has built a buzz around their unique blend of Afrobeat, rock, and punk highlighted in their recent eponymous debut album.

Opening act Yacht set about getting the crowd excited for their evening as they bounded on the stage. The two-person act—not including a Mac laptop sitting on a stool—felt more like a performance art troupe than a musical act. Band members Jona and Claire sing-yelled over electro-pop-hip-hop-mixtape-sound-effects and beats emitting from their laptop while dropping to their knees, dancing around on their tiptoes, and shaking; it was like an epileptic fit set to a beat. Exuberant and funny, Yacht was at their best when they interacted with the crowd, taking a break from Jona’s singing and Claire’s hip-hop hype (wo)man act—a mix of back up singing, dancing, and prop management—to hold a Q&A session (“How do I rock so hard?” Jonah repeats an audience member’s question. “I am a mirror for you, sir”).

When Vampire Weekend came on stage and launched into their song “Mansard Roof,” the audience immediately became a sea of bobbing heads. Lead singer and guitarist Ezra Koenig seemed to be held back from totally letting loose by his wide body guitar, causing jerky movements that fit in perfectly with the lighthearted music. Koenig talked up the crowd and had us enthusiastically screaming “Ooohs,” “Whoa-e-whoas,” and “Blake’s got a new face” at the top of our lungs at his urging. New songs from their unreleased second album were also performed, much to everyone’s excitement. VW had nothing but love for their Chicago audience (drummer Chris Tomson had been wearing a Bulls T-shirt all week allegedly), proclaiming that this was the biggest show they’ve played, even larger than shows in their native New York. And Chicagoans at Metro last night had nothing but love for them. --Anthonia Akitunde

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