Vampire Weekend’s concert last Wednesday night at the Fox Theater in Oakland was a performance straight out of the books. Front man Ezra Koenig and his Oxford-clad gang played their obligatory 75 minutes, opening shortly after 9 pm with their upbeat “Cousins,” debuting a few synthy new tracks and calling it a night around 10:30 p.m. immediately after their encore.
While the boys left little room for error by way of crowd favorites — highlights included “White Sky,” “Diplomat’s Son,” and “A-Punk” — the performance felt short and substantially lacking in girth and gusto. For being creatures of the night, the vampires seemed either too fatigued or too scared to show off or venture at all from studio renditions of their songs. Some tracks even felt shorter than their originals as the band hastened to reach 20 songs in the short hour.
The band has been accused of what could be called boyish, 20-something shyness in the past, likely stemming from their sudden rise to fame after all having graduated from Columbia University and self-producing their first album in 2006. But sheer amateurism alone can’t account for the members’ general lack of enthusiasm before a decidedly non-Oakland audience on Wednesday night.
Blame their cool, preppy aloofness or post-Coachella fatigue, but the band’s virtual lack of crowd engagement felt like disinterest over all else. The Fox show felt like an afterthought for the band, an unnecessary “Oxford Comma” splicing its ambitious Coachella weekend sandwich in two. Indeed, even the encore felt altogether contrived and Koenig couldn’t seem to effectively deliver the line, “But actually Oakland and not Alameda / your girl was in Berkeley with her Communist reader” with sufficient shout-out enthusiasm that an expectant (and paying) audience deserves.
Contact Boni Mata at [email protected].