On Friday night, Vampire Weekend made their debut at New York’s Madison Square Garden, offering an extended, career-spanning performance at the famed venue in support of their newest studio album, Father of the Bride, while welcoming a couple of special guests.
The night kicked off with FOTB cut “Bambina” before the band marched back through their other three albums, backwards chronologically, with “Unbelievers” (from 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City) “White Sky” (2010’s Contra) and fan favorite “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” (their 2008 self-titled debut). Other tunes in the first half of Friday’s set included new tunes “Sympathy,” “Unbearably White” and “This Life,” plus the instrumental “M79,” which frontman Ezra Koenig explained—after noting that the MSG debut was something of a hometown show for the band—is named after the Manhattan bus that runs along 79th street (Vampire Weekend first began when the members were attending NYC’s Columbia University).
The group also fit in a cover of SBKRT’s “New Dorp. New York” and added a surprise cover of Toots & The Maytals’ “Pressure Drop” into their own reggae-infused tune “Diplomat’s Son.” Immediately after, Koenig moved to the rear of the stage to face the audience seated behind the band’s setup to sing FOTB‘s opening cut, “Hold You Now,” with new VW member Greta Morgan holding down the other end of the vocal duet at the front of the stage.
After some VW staples like “Diane Young,” “Cousins,” “A-Punk” and “Hannah Hunt,” Koenig welcomed out The Internet’s Steve Lacy, who appears on two FOTB tracks, for a duo of songs, starting with Lacy’s own “Dark Red” followed by their collaborative “Sunflower,” which saw Koenig dueling with new VW guitarist Brian Robert Jones on the relentless main riff. The band then rounded out the set with one of their first hits, “Oxford Comma,” followed by the contemplative FOTB cut “Jerusalem, New York, Berlin,” which featured a cameo from opening act Angélique Kidjo.
Koenig then returned with the band for an extended encore, kicking off with “Big Blue” and then taking three crowd requests for “Ottoman” (which appears on the soundtrack for the 2010 film Nick & Nora’s Infinite Playlist), “Obvious Bicycle” and “Run” before the planned trio of final tunes, “Worship You,” “Ya Hey” and “Walcott,” which the frontman noted was the second song Vampire Weekend ever wrote together.
Check out the full setlist below, along with some fan-shot video from the night. Vampire Weekend also just announced a batch of 2020 tour dates that will take them around North America into the fall. See the new dates below, and get more information at the band’s website.
Madison Square Garden – New York, NY
Bambina, Unbelievers, White Sky, Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa, Holiday, M79, One (Blake’s Got a New Face), Sympathy, Unbearably White, Step, New Dorp. New York, This Life, Diplomat’s Son (with Pressure Drop cover), Hold You Now, Harmony Hall, Diane Young, Cousins, A-Punk, Hannah Hunt, 2021, California English, Dark Red*, Sunflower*, Oxford Comma, Jerusalem New York Berlin^
Enc: Big Blue, Ottoman+, Obvious Bicycle+, Run+, Worship You, Ya Hey, Walcott
Notes: * w/ Steve Lacy
^ w/ Angélique Kidjo
+ crowd request
Vampire Wekend 2020 Tour Dates
May 29 Westbrook, ME – Main Savings Pavilion
May 30 Burlington, VT – Midway Lawn
May 31 Gilford, NH – Bank of New Hampshire Pavilion
June 2 Lewiston, NY – Artpark Mainstage Theater
June 3 Pittsburgh, PA – Stage AE
June 12 Asheville, NC – The Orange Peel
Aug 9 Bend, OR – Les Schwab Amphitheater
Aug 10 Boise, ID – Ford Idaho Center Amphitheater
Aug 12 Missoula, MT – Kettlehouse Amphitheater
Aug 14 Calgary, AB – BMO Centre
Aug 15 Edmonton, AB – Edmonton Convention Centre
Sept 23 Columbus, OH – Express Live!
Sept 24 Detroit, MI – Michigan Lottery Amphitheater
Sept 26 Cedar Rapids, IA – McGrath Amphitheatre
Sept 27 Lincoln, NE – Pinewood Bowl Theater
Sept 29 Kansas City, MO – Starlight Theatre
Sept 30 Tulsa, OK – BOK Center
Oct 6 New Orleans, LA – Saenger Theatre
Oct 7 Birmingham, AL – BJCC Concert Hall