Music For Your (Vampire) Weekend

Written by

Ezra Koenig of Vampire Weekend Photo by Dustin Downing

Holy smokes! You see what we did there? Music. For. Your. Vampire. Weekend.

For today’s special MFYW, we throw on our pastel blue shorts, boat shoes (sock-less), dadbod-sized polo and sail off in our leisure watercraft to the magical musical shores of Vampire Weekend’s Village Studios live session (recorded for Morning Becomes Eclectic).

But, before we dive into the live goodies that Ezra Koenig & co. recorded for this MBE session, let’s get into a bit of history about one of indie-rock’s most prominent mainstream crossover bands.

Let me take you back…

It was the end of summer when I was producing a radio program at the long-defunct LA station, Indie 103.1fm. One night, the Monday host brought in a CD with the words Vampire Weekend written on it. Despite thinking, “what a ridiculous name,” we took a listen and opted to play the tracks “Ladies of Cambridge,” “Mansard Roof,” and “Oxford Comma.” It was love at first listen. 

Winter rolled around and right before we all went on break, a boyish Ezra, along with Rostam, Chris Baio, and Chris Tomson stopped by the studio and cobbled together an acoustic version of “I Stand Corrected” (which a more polished version would appear on their self-titled debut in January of ’08).  We all headed to The Echo after the radio show and saw Vampire Weekend perform in the smallest venue they would ever play again in LA.

Not many bands have survived from that era. And if they did, not many of them have had the crossover success of Vampire Weekend. From their preppy Columbia/Cape Cod vibes that were doused with African pop rhythms, to their – somehow- natural sounding jammy Grateful Dead-esque evolution. These guys are superstars. Enough so, that Father of the Bride is their third consecutive album to debut at No. 1 on the Billboard charts, even with a multi-year break.

But enough waxing poetic on VW. Let’s ‘dock’ into this career-spanning live session from Vampire Weekend with these three singles: 

“Holiday”

Although “Holiday” is off their somewhat misunderstood sophomore release Contra, don’t be fooled, it is a fan favorite at shows. The live version sounds delectable and has that frenzied vibrant energy much like “A-Punk” or “Mansard Roof.” This version takes you back to a time when you possibly solidified your love of this band. 

“Harmony Hall”

The first single off of Father of the Bride, starts off with a playful and soft arpeggiated guitar riff and only gets bigger once the piano comes in. It perfectly fits in that pocket of sound that characteristically makes up the Vampire Weekend brand. “Harmony Hall” has an immediacy and catchiness that harkens back to the days of their self-titled debut, but musically, is light years from where the band was in 2008. 

“Stoneflower” (jam version of “Sunflower”)

This is where we come to the full-blown Dead Head meets dad-rock jam band flirtation that I did not see coming one bit. The opening guitar lick transports you to a 70’s classic rock dream. The near-endless fuzz guitar outro channels Joe Satriani fills and to a lesser extent feels a bit Deep Purple… which is a perfect way to end this live session and any live session for that matter.