With Beach House and the Very Best
Fillmore Miami Beach, Miami
Wednesday, October 13, 2010
Better than: The impending Miami Music Festival.
A sea of flannel isn't the norm in Miami Beach, but when Vampire Weekend's in town, the kids don't stand a chance.
Judging by the scream/swoon factor when Ezra Koenig, his curly bangs, and his band took the stage to the strains of DJ Khaled's "All I Do Is Win," this crowd would be game for anything the New York indie-rock staples proposed. "We love to see that fist-pumping," he remarked after the driving Afro-pastiche "A-Punk." Mixed into the sparse banter were requests for audience participation -- massive whoooa-ing during "M79" distracted from the confirmation that the string and harpsichord parts would be handled only by keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij and not a buttoned-up ensemble I'd always (inappropriately) imagined had sat in on the sessions. All night, Batmanglij's accompaniment choices expertly split the difference between the synth-driven Contra material with the more organic turns of their debut.
Drummer Chris Tomson made the most of his intricate parts and brought the dusty, shuffling beats behind "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" as well as the slicker pop thrust of "Giving Up the Gun" to thunderous, trunk-rattling heights. During these moments, Koenig seemed more relaxed in his condensed movements around the stage with the knowledge that every eye probably wasn't watching those curls on his forehead flop ever so precariously. He almost got a little too comfortable during the last song before the encore, "Oxford Comma." Visions of John Mayer's facial contortions during a particularly stirring guitar moment danced through my head. He regained control for the efficient encore and had vocal vigor to spare for "Horchata," a beverage woefully found nowhere on the premises.
Notably, the youthful crowd responded instantly to the songs they recognized -- but short attention spans meant that only a few held them past the first chorus. This was never more painfully apparent than during the meditative "Taxi Cab," which prompted someone with a green laser pointer to paint the ceiling with it. Bassist Chris Baio broke out a cello for it, so it's assumed that this is one they play for themselves more than the restless throngs. VW isn't a bunch of sadists, though, and the only two songs unheard from their two albums were the closers to each disc, "The Kids Don't Stand a
Chance" and "I Think UR a Contra."
Inflicting more incisive, ponderous pain prior was the mopey Beach House, for whom even a haircut is probably a bummer. Following a lively if sparsely decorated set by the Very Best -- unwrinkled faces responded well to the Afro fusion of "Julia" and a "Paper Planes" reboot, but no "Warm Heart of Africa" collaboration
on this night -- there was something off about TVB's Esau Mwamwaya saying
"Beach House is in the house." They were there physically, all right, but asserted little presence.
In front of three white pyramids, Victoria Legrand and Alex Scally (and two additional players) found a gravity to the sound that inspired some to close their eyes to feel the music and others to roll them. Stretching a two-syllable word like gila into eight seemed tiring for Legrand, and by midway through the set, many of the male members of the crowd were sighing and getting restless. Still others -- call them the "Ze-bros" -- were finding life anew in the dreamy material. Admittedly, the night-sky backdrop was a nice touch. If only there were sleeping bags as well.
Overheard: "Oh my fucking God, yes fucking 'Gila!'" by a young man going apeshit in a Smiths T-Shirt during Beach House.
Personal bias: All of my @CountyGrind tweets during the show referring to @BeachHouse were actually addressed to Kirstin Beach and should have mentioned @BeachHouse2010 #teachingmoment.
The crowd: Exuberant, preppie youth. A guy reading a book between performers. A lot of couples who like to get down nasty-like while listen to Vampire Weekend, including a guy in a collared shirt who wore his VW sunglasses indoors throughout the entire set. Two girls dressed like vampire sluts with a dude in a cape who were taking the whole thing too literally -- although the night's rampant Top-Sider wardrobe choice could've been nods to Beach House.
A Walk in the Park
10 Mile Stereo
Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
I Stand Corrected
One (Blake's Got a New Face)
Giving Up the Gun