Most leading men and women will take sips of water or beer between songs on stage. Monday night in the opening concert at the Outer Harbor, Vampire Weekend’s frontman Ezra Koenig was taking sips of coffee.
Coming off of Sunday’s headlining performance at the Governor’s Ball, a three-day music festival in New York City, he probably needed something to keep up his energy. It worked.
“This ends our two-night New York State tour,” Koenig playfully said to the audience.
This summer is a lot calmer for the alternative rock band, which toured its third album, “Modern Vampires of the City,” a year ago. Monday night’s performance did not miss a beat.
There’s a certain consistency to the band’s performances. I saw them twice during last summer’s festival circuit, and the set lists were almost the same, if not identical, to Monday’s group of songs. Both the band’s and the crowd’s energy remained high for the hourlong duration of the set. Particular highs came during “A-Punk,” “Unbelievers” and the encore’s final song, “Walcott.”
The crowd that made its way closest to the stage comprised mostly Urban Outfitters-clad high schoolers and students home from college for the summer. This crowd took particularly well to the college-themed ballads of “Campus” and “Oxford Comma,” which came one after the other.
The only thing missing was witty banter from Koenig between songs. There was a small amount, but many fans are drawn to him for his quirky personality as well as his music. This has long been a qualm of mine when seeing Vampire Weekend, but, fortunately, the band’s music more than makes up for it.
Cults, the opening act, held their own. It was clear not many people in the young crowd knew who they were, but they got the evening started on the right note.
The band, which released its sophomore album last fall, was pleasantly surprising after a bit of a lackluster start. Their sweet, poppy sound accompanies intense, sometimes violent lyrics. I find their recordings to be fairly monotonous, but they seemed to find their groove after a few songs. Singer Madeline Follin, the band’s leading female, has a beautiful voice that might fall into that rare category of being better live than recorded.
Band members were as happy to be there as the concertgoers. “We’ve never played somewhere as beautiful and well-populated as this,” singer and guitarist Brian Oblivion told the audience.
It was easy to enjoy the beauty the Outer Harbor has to offer Monday night. The weather was warm all night.
There were also no problems with traffic in both getting in and getting out. Parking was easy, and the bands came on stage relatively on time. It was one of the more pleasant outdoor concert experiences I have had in a while.