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The New England Patriots Of Indie Rock

Vw New York's Vampire Weekend and those New England Patriots both elicit very strong feelings as to the legitimacy of their output. As a few have pointed out, most of the hate directed towards VW is due to their preppy flaunting of a vague notion of privilege. The comments on Brooklyn Vegan dubbed their fans "indie-frat", which I think means that they're a lot like Dave Matthews' audience, but happen to be on indie label XL, which draws a certain type of music fan, not usually associated with the Greek alphabet.

The similarities are striking: both have Massachusetts ties; VW sings about towns such as Hyannis Port; the Patriots, despite being from a "region," also stake the territory just outside Boston. Both have effortlessly risen to the ranks to the point where they're currently in leagues of their own. VW has press coming in at every corner, critical acclaim to back it up and a downright fun album that cannot shake the comparisons to "Graceland" (aside: what was THAT record consistently compared to?). And of course, this whole season, the Patriots and the '72 Dolphins were always in the same conversation, especially as they got closer and closer to finishing undefeated.

And watching VW last night at the Bowery Ballroom, their second sold-out night in a row, they embody what we love and hate about Tom Brady. They're youthful and have chiseled good looks. And like Brady, VW has an impressive air of confidence when they're playing -- way too much for being in their early 20s. They're never awkward, and lead singer Ezra Koenig, despite a need to work on his stage banter, delivers line after line flawlessly. He knows how to control his voice, as on "One (Blake's Got a New Face)." He hits the high points on the appropriate words, puts a little quiver in his voice and returns it to its lower pitch promptly. These little variations are enough to make you think he's ├╝ber talented, or at the very least, mildly interesting.

VW is quite adept at recreating the album's sunny, backyard BBQ feel. Crowd favorites "Oxford Comma" and "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa" were built around repetitive guitar and bass chords, and "Walcott" seemed a bit sped up, as Koenig egged the crowd on, pseudo-shouting, "outta Cape-Cod tonight." 

People grew hate Brady delivering pass after pass and breaking records left and right. It's okay to be good but not too good -- that was the general conclusion in living rooms/bars around the country.  And for Vampire Weekend, the common thought/myth is that bands are supposed to struggle (at least a bit) or supposed to pay some sort of tangible or metaphorical dues for years. But they both just make it look so easy.

When it comes down to it, who'd you rather be? The quarterback who's struggled with consistency, as well as controlling the hometown boos (Eli Manning), or the guy who is hated for being awesome? It's an easy choice. The Patriots are fantastic at the moment, and VW might be too. It still doesn't mean they're not annoying. -- Michael D. Ayers

January 31, 2008 | Permalink


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Posted by: Doodee | Feb 3, 2008 10:38:51 PM

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