Vampire Weekend’s long-awaited stop in Arkansas culminated on a perfect fall night in Fayetteville and drew a hodgepodge of music lovers, from baby-toting picnic blanket dwellers to Hendrix College students proudly sporting satirical “Faux Rush Week” tanks.
The band’s fashionably late arrival grew the anticipation of the crowd, and led to questions of whether the band would play any of their “old stuff” or stick mainly to their more serious and thought-provoking album “Modern Vampires of the City,” released in May. All doubts were powerfully put to rest when the curtain dropped, revealing a floral backdrop of pink and red carnations, an ornate gold mirror suspended in the center of the stage and distressed Greco-Roman columns hanging above the stage on either side. The band opened the show with a crowd favorite, “Cousins,” from their second album “Contra.” They followed with “White Sky,” another favorite from the album.
“Vampire Weekend is finally in the home of the Hogs,” lead singer Ezra Koenig said at the close of the song. “It’s been a long time comin’. ” They followed their greeting with “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” from their self-titled first album. Vampire Weekend ventured into their newest material with “Unbelievers,” which grapples with eternal questions and religious quandaries, singing, “I’m not excited but should I be?” Any unanswered questions in the crowd were quickly answered by “Holiday,” and Koenig’s confirmation that “to go away on a summer’s day / never seemed so clear.”
Everyone was in unison with the pleasingly juxtaposing messages, and by the time Vampire sang “Step,” we could all “feel it in [our] bones.” The mixture of foot-stomping and thought-provoking songs continued to be a theme of the show, and Vampire Weekend did anything but shy away from their original sounds, playing “A-Punk,” “Boston (Ladies of Cambridge),” “Campus” and “Oxford Comma.” Crowd chants of “encore” turned into to a unified hog call.
“You are a great bunch,” Koenig said. The band came back with “Hannah Hunt” for the encore as the floodlights raised to illuminate the American Flag slowly waving at the front of the crowd. “You guys asked for one, but we’re going to give you two,” Koenig said. “It’s been a great time in Arkansas, you guys have been kind. I think we picked the right town in Arkansas to lose our virginity in. I’m sure we’re not the first.” They closed with “Walcott,” an authentic indie-rock favorite from their first album. Clearly, the Ivy League grads gave Arkansas more than the ol’ college try, and the result couldn’t have been more genuine.
The full setlist and more photos are on the jump.
2. White Sky
3. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa
4. Diane Young
9. Everlasting Arms
10. Finger Back
11. California English
13. Boston (Ladies of Cambridge)
16. Oxford Comma
17. Giving up the Gun
18. Obvious Bicycle
19. Hannah Hunt