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August 11, 2007

Tokyo Police Club; Ra Ra Riot; Vampire Weekend; Johnny Brenda’s, Philadelphia PA 08.09.07

OK, so let’s get something straight: if someone tells you Vampire Weekend are going to be "the next Clap Your Hands Say Yeah”, discredit their taste in music. Immediately. I mean, it’s not exactly a lie –- these kids will certainly blow up CYHSY stylee, but as for a musical comparison, your friend/mentor/music know-it-all has tin ears. I managed to squeeze myself into a little balcony spot and all I could think was, “this sounds like Paul Simon’s Graceland, and I don't like where it's going.” Then I saw, the barefooted lead singer, some boat shoes scattered on the stage and my suspicions were confirmed. (Actually, I’m lying – my good friend Josh from BadmintonStamps told me that the Shout Magic kids were saying the same thing too.) This isn’t to dissuade you from checking them out -- it’s more or less of a caveat emptor. I like to call this “divorced dad rock” – the kind of music a way out-of-touch adult clings to maintain some shred of relevancy/street cred with a younger peer group. So you know, if your divorced dad is looking for something that rocks, but reminds him of Paul Simon or world music… here you go.

If this was a fair and proper universe, Ra Ra Riot would be the band to blow up, and not VW (ugh, even their initials evoke the ultimate preppy car manufacturer, Volkswagen). Unfortunately the only knowledge I had of this band prior to Thursday’s show was the tragic passing of their drummer, which is not exactly the kind of thing you never really want to keep in the mental dossier. Thankfully, they did the thing that relatively unknown bands need to do -– blindside the audience with their amazingness. Four guys, two female string players (cellist & violinist, respectively) and a whole lot of cathartic energy on stage, ultimately stealing stole the show from the blog heavyweights. I know this sounds totally corny but the first time I saw Broken Social Scene play in Philly (at the teeny tiny Khyber), I was equally blown away, my rock nerd spider sense tingled with the knowledge that this band would become superstars soon enough. With their fiery brand of indie rock (which sometimes reminded me of Polvo inexplicably), I can’t imagine this band being left in the shadows for too long.

And since Ra Ra Riot were so ra-ra-rad (ugh, had to do it!), I can’t believe I’m about to tell you about how positively underwhelmed I was by Tokyo Police Club. Now, this gang of indie heartthrobs are always good for a high-octane rock set, as was the case this night, but you know, compared to their opener, it just fell short. (Are the members of Kappa Sigma A$$h0le closet Gilmore Girls fans? Their namecheck on the show is the only explanation I have for why the audience was so… fratastic.) I know they like to play that song with their name in it, but come on -- the crowded (sold out?) show knows who you are. And if they don’t you’re the last band on the bill -- not really that hard to figure out.

Vampire Weekend




Ra Ra Riot








Tokyo Police Club




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Raised By Bees

I've liked what I'd heard of Vampire Weekend, but when people start talking about the Nu Preppy and Paul Simon, I'm off the bus. Also agree that Ra Ra Riot should/would be the stars of that bill, and just in general. Just had to write up one of their tracks for Forkast and was impressed by the consistency and energy of the EP -- and of course that they are still doing their thing after such a terrible, terrible loss.

Michael Tom

I'm trying to capture some divorced dad rock.

Also, Ra Ra Riot looks awesome... I probably should've gone to this show. Instead, my weekend was defined by sitting in my friends' house, watching "Purple Rain" (seriously).


I don't mind preppiness at all, but the unwavering seriousness that's applied to it is a gigantic turn-off.


RRR were awesome. I'm totally in love with the 7" I picked up. That said, I am 100% behind watching "Purple Rain", or any TV for that matter.

muhal richard abrams

I wear boat shoes, am in a frat and like graceland... so maybe I should check out vampire weekend?
I saw tpc open for read yellow and (ugh) chinese stars a year or so back and my thought was that they were band with great songs that needed to learn to get comfortable on stage. Sounds from your review that they still haven't figured that out yet, maybe?
Anyway, the song with their name in it is to good a song to sacrifice in the name of good taste.


Muhal, you know you are clearly exempt from my seething frat boy hatred, right? Jus' makin' that clear. But these dudes looked so SERIOUS about it, like someone might take away their country club membership otherwise.

muhal richard abrams

speaking of country club apparel, I was working at a ska show at the church on saturday, and the last remaining 3 old school skinheads showed up their fred perry polo shirts and doc martens.
But ya, its weird that the northface and kegstands set would come out for fey power pop about robots from the future.
But if SAE started blasting grandday instead of journey, that would be pretty awesome.


Are we no longer friends if I admit I have a soft spot for Paul Simon's Graceland?

Citizen Mom

'divorced dad rock'


Heatha, we can still be friends. But if you whip out your worn copy of "Graceland", it's over.


MTS, I think you are running on too many assumptions. These guys don't take it seriously at all; they practice less than any other band I know. Hell, they only did one 45 minute practice a week before they left on their first national tour.

Of course, that absence of seriousness also has it downsides, most notably a strong lack of presence and energy on stage. But honestly, everyone has the band pegged all wrong, only two songs are strongly remniscent of Graceland and they dabble in various styles. If you bothered to listen to more than the tracks on Myspace or have heard some of their newer material trickling out at live performance you'd realize this is a band that is extremely likely to evolve from LP to LP.

You scenesters are so hung up on image that you can't even tell when a band comes along that doesn't really have one.


TK, based on your uber-defensive post, you must be a friend of the band, a publicist or maybe, just maybe, a member of the band.


Way to focus on context rather than content; spoken like a true scene snob.


OK, so how about I jump in the van with yinz and do a couple of tour dates, you know, just to see how you really are? Because apparently doing my job (which is what I'm supposed to do) isn't enough.

And if you think I'm joking, I'm not. My employer made me take a van training course a couple years ago, so I'm totally capable of driving a 12-person van.


Why does everyone have to call the "scenester" card when criticizing? It's just as lazy as what you're accusing MTS of.

She's critiquing a live performance, which you even admit is one that lacks presence and energy. That definitely moves into boring divorced dad rock territory in my opinion.

Maybe a little more practice might make them a little more exciting and not creators of yet another coffee table record.

Plus, "no image" is just another image.

muhal richard abrams

I'm pretty sure that context is key in this scenario. If you are, as mts suspects, a friend of the band, you are probably going to try to defend them, much in the same way that I, as a friend of mts, am going to try to defend her.


The fact that anyone is calling MTS some sort of holier-than-thou "scenester" is ridiculous. She's anything but and way cooler than that.


like you couldnt tell this band was going to completely one hundred percent suck before you even heard one note!

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