Vampire Weekend last night at Chaifetz Arena went so well I still can't type as well as I used to. It's getting pretty late in the afternoon. I hope this isn't permanent.
I was already tired than a mofo, from having worked like a Hebrew slave all weekend long at the BGM. You know how you put on your best drunk after a hard day's work. It's almost enough to make me want to work more often. But I think I'll settle for a somewhat less satisfying intoxication.
Chaifetz Arena is where St. Louis University's team plays basketball. I've been to about a million Billiken games over the years, at the old Arena a/k/a the Checkerdome (where a lot of classic live rock albums were recorded), and at the Kiel Center a/k/a the Savvis Center, or whatever they're calling it now, but this was my first time in Chaifetz Arena, probably because its construction coincided with me exiting this country's economic mainstream. Coincidence?
I have to say, it's not that bad for what it is. It's way smaller than Savvis, which makes me wonder if it wouldn't be kinda retarded to watch a b-ball game there. Was the goal to make SLU seem more along the lines of a high school? But fuck sports - I was there to see a concert. Concerts always suck balls at Savvis, because the building is way too big. Anything that's not on the floor is basically just throwing away money, and even the floor is kinda crap, for what you pay. Chaifetz is way better in that regard. They closed off an entire half of a stadium that's not that big anyway. It was like watching a stadium caliber band play the theater in my high school, where I used to play jazz concerts what seems like a lifetime ago.
That's why you can only hate rich college kids but so much. Plus, all of the girls there were carrying an extra 10-20 pounds, but usually not any more than about 30. If you're gonna be a tad chubby, 19 is the age to be.
I wasn't familiar with first opener the Very Best, other than that they were African. I thought they'd be actual musicians, but come to find out it's just some DJ, and an African guy who chants something or other, not unlike a male MIA. No truffle fries. All his songs were just other people's songs with him shouting over them - like a live, African version of an '02-era 50 Cent mixtape.
I was aware of second opener Beach House, but I hadn't been a fan. I'd listened to one or maybe two of their albums, and it just didn't seem like there was a lot going on. Turns out I may have just been using the wrong equipment. Beach House probably don't come off as well on shitty Korean laptop speakers. Live, Beach House's sound is full and luxuriant, like one of the Rev Al "Mr. Do" Sharpton's velour track suits. I'd describe it as the kind of CD you'd want to keep around in case you talk one of these indie rock chicks into getting into the car with you, maybe it could help lead to some bad decision-making. I could also see them becoming one of these indie rock groups it's acceptable for black people to like, perhaps if they could get Jay-Z involved.
So then Vampire Weekend went on. This was my third time seeing them in about three years, and I don't even know if they've been around three years, so I knew what to expect: awesomeness. They've only got two short albums worth of songs, but each one of them is the tits. Their catalog is like the rock equivalent of a Gemma Atkinson calendar. I was surprised at how many of them I knew the words to. Some of them I only kinda knew the words to, but it was cool, because I was drunk and because this wasn't a crowd full of fighters. Highlights included songs where the audience was invited to participate, like "A-Punk," "M79" and "Blake's Got a New Face," and songs where the audience didn't have a part per se, but I found one, because they were the best songs ever, like "Run," "Giving Up the Gun" and "Horchata." Notice how the former are from the first album and the latter are from the second album. That might be indicative of a shift of focus in their songwriting.
At work yesterday, it occurred to me that Vampire Weekend once did a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Everywhere" - a staple of the Muzak at the BGM and a number of other places I've worked over the years. I thought maybe they'd play it last night, since it's customary for bands to play a cover version during a show, especially bands that don't have a lot of songs. They didn't (damn), but they did play a cover version: that song "I'm Going Down" by Bruce Springsteen, which is also big on Muzak. I wonder if Muzak played as formative a role in Ezra Koenig's life as it did in mine. It's where I first heard a lot of the songs I post here on Fridays.