Poor Vampire Weekend. First everyone said they were the most amazing thing to happen to music since the hollow log. Then your mom bought the album, and everyone said they were overrated garbage. Well, ya’ know what? Your mom was right. I don’t care what it does to my H.Q. (hipster quotient), Vampire Weekend’s first album was an excellent record. Yeah, it was made by a bunch of rich (has that ever been confirmed?) Columbia University students who sing about things like going to college and hanging out on Cape Cod, and yeah, it’s heavily influenced by African music even though none of the members are from Africa, and yeah, they got inordinately successful in a short amount of time. But who really cares, when they do what they do so well? They are not trying to present themselves as anyone other than who they are. And as to the criticism about them appropriating African music, that’s just rock n’ roll. It’s no different to me than Led Zeppelin appropriating the blues or David Lee Roth appropriating being gay.
That having been said, when Eric initially called and told me that Vampire Weekend was playing a free surprise show in a tiny amphitheater in Boyle Heights, I didn’t immediately jump at the chance to go to it. I was getting tired from my Week of Many Shows and I was anticipating having to fight with crowds of people to get a spot. Until Sarah reminded me that we live in Los Angeles, and people don’t do things here. I mean, that’s not exactly true. People in LA do plenty of things. There are lots of things to do here and when I do things, I often see people there. But they don’t do things like rush out the door to hit a last-minute free concert, particularly if that concert starts on time. People in LA don’t like sudden movements. They like to make plans weeks in advance and then skip out on them.