Saturday night, indie rockers, Vampire Weekend, performed for a sold-out crowd at PNC Pavilion in support of their recent full-length release, Father of the Bride. Founding members Ezra Koenig (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Baio (bass), and Chris Tomson (drums) were joined by guitarist Brian Robert Jones, guitarist/keyboardist Greta Morgan as well as a second drummer. The excitement in the air was palpable from the start as the band kicked off their 2+ hour career spanning set with “Sympathy.” While the audience (myself included) was hooked from the moment the band walked on stage, the standout song of the night for me came about 1/3 of the way into the set. Koenig and guest guitarist, Jones, stood face to face center stage and played an elevated and extended intro to “Sunflower.” Both incredibly skilled guitarists, they played in perfect (and I mean perfect) harmony. Taking the words right out of my mouth Koenig proclaimed, “Now we’re warming up!” as soon as the song finished.
The band went off the beaten path with many of their older favorites such as “White Sky” from their 2010 release, “Contera,” during which Koenig and Jones riffed back and forth for an extended intro. Moments like these had the audience on the tip of their toes waiting to see what beloved song to which the new but familiar sounding instrumentation was leading. Other stand outs were an extended jam section on “Stranger,” and throwback tune and crowd pleaser, “Horchata.”
While the subject matter may not always lend itself to such the entire set of happy sounding songs made for a truly feel-good experience for the audience. Smiles were plastered on every face I saw from start to finish and you couldn’t help but dance along. Even if it had been my first-time hearing Vampire Weekend the feeling of nostalgia that this performance evoked was undeniable.
The generous 24 song set ended with “Obvious Bicycle/Son of a Preacher Man” before the band returned for a 4-song encore including Crowded House cover, “Don’t Dream It’s Over” and fan requests, Ottoman and Walcott.