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Lifeblood for Bangkok’s music fans

Posted on 16 September 2010 by Joel Quenby

With the announcement of Vampire Weekend’s concert on October 22, Bangkok’s music-lovers have something to sink their fangs into

Suck on this: Vampire Weekend (images courtesy of Lullaby Entertainment)

Suck on this: Vampire Weekend (images courtesy of Lullaby Entertainment)

Asian music-lovers hoping to catch their favorite foreign bands in action have been deprived in recent years. Especially in Thailand, where political strife and exotic business machinations often deter headline acts from performing.

There has been little to whet Thai concertgoers’ aural appetites since punk-pop act Green Day performed in January. Opera maestro Andrea Bocelli, hip-hop star Pitbull and Jennifer Aniston’s ex John Mayer all skipped Bangkok in 2010. The last decent music festival, featuring Oasis and Franz Ferdinand, was years ago, in 2006.

Meanwhile, like at the climax of “rockumentary” Spinal Tap, performers well past their sell-by-dates slip through the net to relive their former glories out East (without naming names, Boy George, Deep Purple, Kool and the Gang and Tom Jones have all staged gigs in Bangkok this year).

Dreary, outdated fare, like Hotel California, accordingly blares from Bangkok’s shops, bars, restaurants and karaoke haunts, seemingly on a constant loop to mock fans of contemporary sounds. Finally, musically malnourished gig-goers have something to look forward to: Vampire Weekend’s forthcoming gig at the Thunderdome on October 22.

Vampire Who?

Horny foursome: Vampire Weekend (image courtesy of Lulllaby Entertainment)

Horny foursome: Vampire Weekend (image courtesy of Lulllaby Entertainment)

This proudly intellectual quartet of inventive American hipsters offers up a sunny blend of limber rhythms and bouncy percussion far removed from their cool New York origins. Upon the release of their perky, self-titled debut album in 2008, Vampire Weekend described their melodic, Afro-pop sound as “Upper West Side Soweto.” Their second album, Contra, extended the sound to incorporate elements of punk, indie, California bubblegum pop, Latino and even classical music. Even so, the nimble, groove-infused tunes retained their lightness of touch.

Studious Ezra Koenig sings about being privileged, well traveled and worldly in lyrics that sometimes sound like he has swallowed a thesaurus. Vampire Weekend have already suffered a media backlash in the States, criticizing the four clean-cut Ivy League graduates for co-opting ethnic music and repackaging it.

Music icons from Elvis and The Beatles to Eminem have all faced the same charge over the years. However, music is a global asset offering life-affirming rhythms, syncopations and melodies that cut through racial, as well as continental boundaries. So check out Thai Ticket Major and enjoy the show.

Fact File:

– Ezra Koenig (lead vocals, guitar), Chris Baio (bass), Rostam Batmanglij (keyboards), and Chris Tomson (drums) formed Vampire Weekend in 2006, while finishing their studies at Columbia University, New York.

– Their song ‘Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa’ ranked 67th on Rolling Stone magazine’s ‘100 Best Songs of the Year’.

– They were Spin magazine’s ‘The Year’s Best New Band’ in 2008 (and the first band to appear on its cover before releasing an album).

– Their music has featured on movie soundtracks, to The Twilight Saga: Eclipse; Will Ferrell comedy Step Brothers; featured in British TV show, The Inbetweeners, and videogames Guitar Hero 5 and LEGO Rock.

– Model Kirsten Kennis is suing the band over the allegedly unlicensed use of her photo on the cover of second album Contra.

Critical Quibbling:

‘The sheer cleverness of every track is endearing. But it’s also brittle; these songs could use just a little more heart.’ The New York Times (on VW’s debut album)

‘Contra differs from their 2008 debut – it’s smoother, less spiky, with less guitars and elements of everything from synthesiser loops to flirtations with dancehall, ska and disco.’ — The Guardian

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