Vampire Weekend Takes Over Seattle

Climate Pledge Arena. Seattle, WA.

The gentle strum of an Epiphone Sheraton II guitar cut through the excited chatter reverberating through the packed-to-the-rafters Climate Pledge Arena. Its classic, clean tones captivated the audience drawing their gaze away from one another toward an austere set: a few mics, a drum kit, and a black reveal curtain emblazoned with “Vampire Weekend.” The stark stylization hinted there would be numerous hidden gems - beautiful soundscapes filled with symbolic gestures - unveiled throughout the show. 

As the thrums of the guitar grew stronger, Ezra Koenig, the erudite frontman of the Grammy-winning genre-blending band Vampire Weekend, emerged from behind the curtain. A sparkling spotlight illuminated the charming rocker as he reached his mic at the midline mark. There he paused, addressing the cheering crowd with a succinct, “What’s up Seattle…”  The fans, many being avid followers of Vampire Weekend since their mid-aughts East Coast inception, quieted allowing Koenig’s soothing, nostalgic-inducing voice to slide into the minimalist, bucolic first stanza of “Hold You Now” from 2019’s Father of the Bride.

Koenig continued his solo foray forsaking the Melanesian choral heard on the recorded track along with guest vocalist Danielle Haim until drummer Chris Tomson and bassist Chris Baio joined in during the breath of the beats between each verse. Together, the three transformed the gentle folk-leaning song into a stunning “rockized” sonnet. Vampire Weekend sustained the show’s minimalist preface with a pair of uber-popular songs from their second release, 2010’s Contra - the fast-paced, punked-out “Cousins,” and the ska-esque “Holiday,” both performed with razor-like precision.

Vampire Weekend's polished performance shifted toward more somber dreamlike timbres for the contemplative intro to “Ice Cream Piano,” the first track from the band’s 2024 release and name of their tour, Only God Was Above Us. The song’s solemn nature grew in strength, working up to the minute mark wherein one fell swoop the chorus swelled into a cacophony of sonic complexity complete with pounding piano keys. The sound triggered the release of the “Vampire Weekend” backdrop.  It fell to the floor revealing a brand-new scene - an intricate recreation of a sepia-styled photo depicting the opening of a gigantic underground tunnel. The visual was enhanced by Vampire Weekend and their backing band wearing shades of beige, the combination alluding to the wo ’pop, alt-rockers embracing their evening role as musical “sandhogs” working to reveal various strata of unheard sounds buried deep within the world’s underground.

The indie-icons moved further into their symbolic journey by unearthing sonic jewels that included the sweet yet sardonic wording in the jazz-infused “Classical” and the elegant, Gershwin piano-driven “Connect,” both from Only God Was Above Us.  Vampire Weekend circled back to Contra  with a few more delightful tracks from their past performing beautifully orchestrated versions of “White Sky” and “Oxford Comma.”  Koenig’s signature Epiphone Sheraton II sound returned to the forefront for the fatally fun “Diane Young” (a homonym for dying young) from 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City, and the baroque-rock “A-Punk” from the band’s self-titled 2008 debut release. Vampire Weekend burrowed further into their ever-experimental discography playing the swirling pastoral-leaning “Symphony” (Father of the Bride) and the wistfully ornate “Step” (Modern Vampires of the City). These songs were a just few of many that highlighted Vampire Weekend’s effortless ability to forge sly, sharp-as-tacks linguistics with slick melodic sonics.

As the two-hour mark approached Vampire Weekend delved back into their recent release Only God Was Above Us with hauntingly gorgeous soundscapes inspired by New York City.  “Prep-school Gangsters,” a reference to an old article by New York journalist Nancy Jo Sales, and “Mary Boone” VW’s single inspired by the infamous NYC gallerist, served as perfect lead-ins to the last song, the fatally optimistic “Hope.”  Its last eerie chords beckoned Vampire Weekend back through the massive tunnel. The imagery created a dreamy conclusion to the epic show. However, wanting to embrace their spontaneous nature, Vampire Weekend resurfaced for an encore filled with snippets of Radiohead’s “Creep,” The Killers’ “Mr. Brightside,” and Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” The show ultimately culminated with a fan favorite, Vampire Weekend’s “Walcott.” Bursting with keyboards, strings, and sparky syncopated beats, it provided an apt coda to an ever-experimental evening.


Hold You Now



Ice Cream Piano



White Sky

This Life





The Surfer


Oxford Comma


Gen-X Cop

Diane Young 


Chalk Dust Torture

Prep-School Gangsters

Mary Boone

Harmony Hall




I’m Going Down 

Hold Up



Psycho Killer


Just like Heaven

Mr. Brightside

Smells Like Teen Spirit