SXSW '08: Vampire Weekend Shrug Off The Hype

Not many of the 1,700 bands playing SXSW this weekend can say they're on the cover of Spin and are fresh off a performance on "Saturday Night Live." Actually, only one can. Two years ago it was Arctic Monkeys eliciting the chatter and the eyeballs at South By, last year it was Peter Bjorn and John or the Cold War Kids, and this year it is undeniably, unquestionably Vampire Weekend.

My favorite Columbia alumni after Gideon Yago are in town to play a modest three shows in Austin — after all, it's not like they need the, ahem, attention. And true to form, when I caught up with them this morning, Ezra, Chris, Chris and Rostam downplayed the buzz. Just as they don't give a f--- about an oxford comma, they at least appear to be nonplussed by it all. "I don't think any of it is gonna change the way we play," said Ezra. "We're just looking forward to playing some shows here and then continuing our tour" — a tour on which for upcoming West Coast dates they'll be joined by another charming man, the quirky Jona Bechtolt and YACHT. Here in Austin, they're especially excited to be sharing a bill this afternoon with Yeasayer, and tomorrow at a Spin magazine party (surprise) with L.A. punk giants X.

Oh, and I'm happy to report VW drummer Chris Tomson is doing just fine following that incident a fortnight ago in England where he was the victim of a hit-and-run accident. He seems to laugh about it now, but it sounds like the guy was pretty lucky. Of course, these days luck and Vampire Weekend seem to go hand in hand.

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For more of Norris' adventures in Austin, watch some "John TV." Plus check back with the Newsroom blog throughout SXSW for more highlights, and be sure to visit our sister blog You R Here for concert reviews, photos and more.