It comes as no surprise that Vampire Weekend choose to air new material from their forthcoming album ‘Contra’ at King’s College Union. Their eponymous debut infused pop-playfulness, classical arrangements and Afro-beat influences that appeased many of the upper echelons of the Guardian-repenting society that are in attendance tonight, and as Ezra explains halfway through the gig, it’s “like singing for grandma in the living room, because you’re so kind!”
For Vampire Weekend defined a time of change within America during their emergence: their erudite and accepting worldview of musical inspiration turned many onto the African warmth of their collegiate sound, almost soundtracking to some extent the link between Conservative White America and their new president elect.
However, for The Whitest Band In The World, tonight is somewhat reserved and bereft of any of the exulting life necessary to get people excited ahead of their 2010 release. Opening with new tracks ‘White Sky’ and ‘Holiday’, Ezra and the band tentatively tiptoe around the stage, giving little to the crowd to feed off of and in volume as he explains that the troupe “are in a transitional phase” before launching into ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’.
Although the new tracks fall upon deaf ears with rhythmic disarray and, as yet, choral relation with the crowd, it’s the older material that saves the evening for the rather excitable congregation awaiting the hits. ‘One (Blake’s Got A New Face)’, ‘M79’, and ‘Oxford Comma’ result in the crowd politely pogoing in appreciation to what is a rather stumbling gig of nerves stripped back by Koenig’s struggling vocals.
Recent free download ‘Horchata’ strikes a chord sitting in between ‘Mansard Roof’ and ‘Walcott’ in the encore, but it all appears a little too late for band lacking any bite or confidence on the night.