Monday, March 1, 2010

A newfound respect for an indie band gone mainstream

A few weeks ago, I found myself at Barnes and Noble's Union Square store, a 4 story massive flagship type store, overlooking the city in all of its bookish and cafe glory. Indie bookstore like Blue Stocking on the Lower East Side or McNally Jackson in Soho it may not be, but hard it does try!

How you say? Well, they have this free monthly series entitled Upstairs at the Square (Catchy, eh?) that pairs a buzz band with an author or poet. I attended last month's with Vampire Weekend and Jamaican poet Kwame Dawes, and to be honest, walked in there with a cynical mindset and smirk on my face.

An hour and a half and a massive crowd, ranging in age from 15-75, later, I walked out with a completely different sentiment about Vampire Weekend.

Why? Well, at first glance, their Columbia University education finally shone through. These guys are intelligent, intellectual, articulate, and compassionate. And, they were playing a stripped down set, and had quite the back and forth dynamic with the poet.

They spoke of Contra's (their new album) influences in music like that from the Caribbean and Africa, and of the power of poetry and the written word to influence modern music. They also addressed how even though they themselves were not of these countries or histories, they still felt like they could use this influence in their music to create powerful and meaningful pieces. They said that their experiences from the outside were valuable in and of themselves.

So this is why I feel like it might be necessary to announce my newfound respect for an indie band gone mainstream.

Vampire Weekend are more deserving of their widespread popularity, if not only for their likeable music, but for their intellectualism and honesty. Hopefully, their fans will learn about why and how VW's music matters rather than simply listening for listening pleasure.

Check out Contra, their new album, and get yourself to Coachella Music and Arts Festival to see them live! (also, look at the songs of the month to the left to see their hilarious new video with Jake Gyllenhaal and Joe Jonas and Lil Wayne)



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