Vampire Weekend

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  • AIRED JUN 8, 2024
  • The TC Crew talk life at the start of the new millennium.

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About Vampire Weekend

At a time when indie pop was opening up to a wide world of influences, Vampire Weekend nudged things to the next level, bringing brainy lyrics and African flavors to the table as a sort of late-2000s alternative-scene answer to Paul Simon. The band began at New York’s Columbia University, where singer/guitarist Ezra Koenig, guitarist/keyboardist Rostam Batmanglij, bassist Chris Baio, and drummer Christopher Tomson were students when they united in 2006. They released their first single, “Mansard Roof,” the next year, and though their self-titled debut album wouldn’t arrive till 2008, a massive internet buzz had already earned them legions of followers by the time it appeared—along with suggestions of cultural appropriation that made the seemingly innocuous group a lightning rod for controversy. But the band transcended such claims with a fresh-faced, frothy blend of pop hooks, quirky lyrics, and soukous-influenced vibes. The album hit the Top 20, and the single “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa,” with its name-checking of Peter Gabriel, was wryly covered by Gabriel himself. With hits like the polyrhythmic “Horchata” and the feverishly paced “Cousins,” Vampire Weekend’s second LP, Contra, went to No. 1, a position that would become familiar. After 2013's Modern Vampires of the City, which bore a more naturalistic, acoustic-flecked feel, Batmanglij left the band; he became a hotshot producer for Charli XCX, Solange, Haim, and others while continuing in a collaborating role. Following a period of readjustment that found Baio and Tomson putting out their own projects, Father of the Bride appeared in 2019. More of an elaborate Koenig-led studio project than a proper band effort, it featured a raft of guest contributors, including Danielle Haim and Steve Lacy (and Jude Law!), who tilted the sound toward country, prog, and other directions.

New York, NY, United States
February 6, 2006
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