Artist Of The Week: Vampire Weekend


(Photo: Lyndsay Siegel)

Lest you've just returned from a year-long deep space mission, Vampire Weekend is a little indie rock band from a big city full of lots of other little indie rock bands. They started out almost not on purpose at all, yet they ended up the biggest little indie band in mainstream music today. So big that they landed the cover of Spin and a Saturday Night Live gig within weeks of their self-titled debut. So big that they were the subject of just about any major music story in 2007 that didn't involve the downfall of a certain former Mouseketeer, a beehived British singer or the entire record industry.

Vampire Weekend -- Ezra Koenig, Rostam Batmanglij, Chris Tomson and Chris Baio, who met at Columbia University, where they clearly paid attention in music appreciation class -- was born not over record exec power drinks or the band's own rockstar dreams but the old-fashioned organic way -- after their house party shows accidentally turned them into heroes of the music blogosphere. First an afterthought on an English-language African music blog in 2006, then a not-uninfluential nod on Stereogum, which begat bigger shows, a New York Times review not long after their graduation to the esteemed Bowery Ballroom (around this time, they also bought a van and elected Ezra as the de facto manager), a mention in the Village Voice, and about a billion more mentions on music blogs, which brings us to the fact that they've just released their first full-length album. No pressure.

Not only is Vampire Weekend's story a sort-of post-punk version of the build-it-they-will-come American dream, but their DIY tale is also one that distinguishes hollow hype from buzz backed by substance. It's not just the charming sweaters and rich-dude boat shoes, which elicit eye rolls from jaded music snobs who've seen all the young dudes in prep-rock outfits before. Nor is it their good grammar or knowledge of early-'80s New Wave and the popular music of West Africa. It's Vampire Weekend's serendipitous-sounding skills, lilting lyrics, command of American-Afro-pop and their ability to make accessible (not affected) art rock that's got the Internet going nuts.

Watch Vampire Weekend's "A-Punk" video and their live Artist of the Week performance below. And check out all of their Artist of the Week videos, plus their Spankin' New live performances, Backstage Pass interviews, tour updates and photos on the Subterranean blog, and catch their Artist of the Week videos (photos here), shot in New York City, all this week on MTV.