Where: Riverbend Music Center, Cincinnati, Ohio
When: June, 15, 2019
It’s was a hot, hot night in Cincinnati.
So hot it makes you wonder just how Chicano Batman can keep so cool on stage, suits and all, but that’s their signature look, and it evokes an old school vibe. A vibe that the Los Angeles, CA-based group carries over into their unique funk-rock—tropical-soul sound. It’s something you can’t help but dance to, a fact the crowd made evident rocking, swaying, and jumping around.
With as much fun as the crowd was having it’s near impossible to not see that lead singer Bardo Martinez is having just as much on stage with an infectious smile that lasted the whole night long. That’s not to say the rest of the guys aren’t having a blast either, everyone shares the spotlight, these guys are like family on stage. No greater example is when drummer, Gabriel Villa, has his solo the rest of the group take a seat. Literally. Everyone gets down low so that single-member stands (or sits) higher on the stage that El Drumero himself. All told their songs, which occasionally transition from English to Spanish in the most beautiful of ways, strike a chord (no pun intended) with the audience.
This night, “it’s not that serious.” Or so the, now slightly more mature, gentlemen of Vampire Weekend would have you believe. They all looked like they were having the time of their lives on stage and did not skip a beat entering the midway point on the first leg of their tour at Riverbend Music Center in Cincinnati, OH. But back to it not being that serious, that line is part of the intro to “Sympathy,” the opening track for the evening’s festivities. It’s a new one-off of their recently released 4th, and third consecutive number 1, an album titled Father of the Bride. And that’s where it starts. It’s not long after the lights dim and the whole gang walks out that frontman Ezra Koenig bites his tongue as he locks in his guitar strap, knowing just how to rock this town. The quirky beat starts along with the immediate cheers and screams from the crowd, you’d think Vampire Weekend hasn’t been around the last 6 years or something. Yes.
From “Sympathy” to something off their eponymous debut studio album, “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” and, let’s be honest, how could you not go crazy for that from the second you hear the first chord?! But then again that with a decade-plus long run and being indie rock’s darlings we all know these songs. Even if you don’t know that you know it. CCKK, to “Unbelievers,” to “This Life,” and “Sunflower.” Dear, oh dear, “Sunflower,” how we love thee! The way the crowd swayed to this one, soaking up the sound waves, taking up that space.
As far as you’d be able to tell from the sounds the crowd is making there isn’t a single song everyone does not know. Pay close attention though you’ll notice the number of people transfixed on bass player Chris Baio’s infectious dance moves. The man does not have the ability to stop his hips. From there we keep moving through the catalog to “Horchata” along with 2 of the singles off Father of the Bride in “Big Blue” and “Harmony Hall.” You start to wonder what songs they haven’t played yet, and then the next block of songs hits. Starting with “Diane Young,” followed by “Cousins,” then “A-Punk,” and last but not least, everyone’s favorite song mentioning Lil Jon, “Oxford Comma.”
The energy really was electric, and not just because of the on again off again storm over Riverbend, but as the music halted and Vampire Weekend walked off stage the crowd knew that wasn’t all they had in store for us. A handful more songs, including a request from the crowd, something VW has been doing at each show with fans sporting the sweet bucket hat look at the barricade, and we all knew the night was coming to a close. The final song of the night was “Walcott,” a rambunctious song off of their self-titled debut all the way back in 2008. It was a perfect choice to finally wrap up with evening. With it’s upbeat, snappy sound along with some crazy finger work on the piano, and Ezra’s voice near screaming the lyrics in a way you never would hear on the album. The lights dim, the music stops, and just as quick as it all began it had come to an end. Walcott, don’t you know that this night was insane?
You can catch Vampire Weekend when their U.S. tour starts up again on August 16 th and continues throughout October. But if you just can’t wait until then you can catch them in Detroit on July 27th when they headline MOPOP Festival!
Post and photos by David Painter
Did you attend this tour? Comment below.
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