Why Vampire Weekend Makes Me Embarrassed to Be a Hipster

VampireWeekendMarcoTorres.JPG
Photo by Marco Torres
Vampire Weekend
Friends, let's get real here. I can't lie to you any longer. By popular opinion, I have been labeled a hipster.

This is not a new or recent development. I was being called a hipster in 2008, long before it was cool to call people hipsters. I've even been mistaken for the guy who started the Hipster Jew blog. Great blog; not me, unfortunately.

One of the reasons people called me a hipster back in those long-forgotten days of two thousand aught eight, aside from saying things like "two thousand aught eight," is because I was a big proponent of a new band called Vampire Weekend, back then called "The Vampire Weekends*".

I discovered them at one Austin City Limits Festival, where they ran through their entire recorded output during the time of their early-afternoon slot. By the end, they ended up having to do covers because they didn't have enough original songs to fill out their time. And let me tell you, they were brilliant. They took everything I loved about Paul Simon's immaculate Graceland and Peter Gabriel's late-'80s releases on Real World Records and translated it into a modern indie-rock format.

But unfortunately, Vampire Weekend has crashed. Hard. So hard that I am now ashamed not only of having once lauded them, but of the ridiculous amount of attention they're getting for their latest records.

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How good was Vampire Weekend in 2008? Well, let's examine that for a moment. Their self-titled debut hit in January of that year. It didn't make too much of a splash on the charts, but it ignited the hearts of little hipsters like myself. I've already told you why I loved it, but for anyone who isn't at least 40, why would a transmutation of Peter Gabriel appeal to them?

Probably because it didn't matter where the ideas came from. The album was 35 minutes of pop perfection. The crew crafted eleven endlessly catchy and enduring pop masterpieces. That transcends influences or time.

I still love that debut record. I'll go to my grave defending it, especially after all the shit I took for naming it one of the best albums of the year in '08. Some people really hated it back then, and continue to hate Vampire Weekend, but the reasons for that were ill-founded then and continue to be.

They were called "too WASP-y" to play this kind of music, but none of them were WASPs. They were college-educated, yes, but that doesn't mean anything in this day and age. In case people have forgotten, our African-American President went to Harvard. The hardcore crowd found them too cutesy, but it wasn't for them. It was pop; it wasn't meant to be deep -- which is, in fact, one of my problems with Vampire Weekend's new material, but I'll get to that.

The point is, whatever mud people wanted to sling at that debut album, none of it could stick because it was baseless, arbitrary venom for one of the best pop records of the decade.

Unfortunately, it was too good to last. Media outlets like Pitchfork began to trumpet them relentlessly. Vampire Weekend were going to be stars whether anyone liked it or not. Not that I blame them. That record deserved considerable praise. The problem was, as with any burgeoning band, is that bolstering them too much creates too much of a myth around them.

The myth of Vampire Weekend was in full force by 2009. Suddenly the band was no longer a band. They were a movement unto themselves, larger than life indie-rock stars. They may not have been making the money, but suddenly people were imitating them musically, posting a news report every time front man Ezra Koenig took a shit, and even dressing like them. I'll admit it too: I started wearing boat shoes after Vampire Weekend hit.

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But the myth inevitably consumes the reality. By the time their second record, Contra, hit in 2010, everything I loved about the band was gone. Contra was mediocre, mildly catchy, unfortunately limp, and dreadfully overwrought. Everything that had been so much fun and so joyous about the first record was lost in a shift.

See, now that Vampire Weekend was a big band, they couldn't be a silly indie-rock band with world music influences. They had to start forging a sound to match the myth. It all got very dramatic, "intelligent," and serious. Contra was still interesting at times, but it sounded more like a typical indie rock album, like you'd hear from the Arcade Fire. And where the first record was based on a short film of Koenig's devising about a northeastern vampire haunting a lake ala Jason Voorhees, this was based on "deep themes," the most dreaded phrase in all of lyrics.

Still, I was willing to give the band the benefit of the doubt until their latest one, Modern Vampires of the City. After all, most bands suffer a little bit on their second record, finding themselves and all that. U2 put out October after all. But Modern Vampires of the City is nauseating in just how much of Contra's failings it pursues.



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20 comments
Brdillo
Brdillo

Initially, I took this article seriously and started thinking maybe modern vampires wasn't as great as I thought. Then I googled Corey Deiterman to see what else you have written. First thing I found was your youtube channel. I know you know that you suck complete balls at music. Either way, I just want to say it again. You suck. Really bad. Stop putting videos up, seriously. I regret listening to you. It was actually painful. And I will never accept your criticism of any music artist.

YoungandAnonymous
YoungandAnonymous

Just because a great band like Vampire Weekend releases an album different from their original album doesn't mean they're bad, it just means their music has evolved into a more eclectic, electronic style of music, which is still classified as indie rock. Don't get me wrong, their first album was fantastic, with heavy guitar influence. But you shouldn't shy away from a band just because you want to remain under the "hipster" stereotype. Also, your title of your blog proves that you are not a hipster, and are just latching on to the stereotypical ideal of a hip person. To you, I say: "Be yourself, don't try to live your life as somebody else, live it like you." And once you do that, you'll finally achieve your "hipster" enlightenment and be a hipster; completely socially independent from the mainstream. So forget about all of these "blog-mustache-fixie-skinny tie" shenanigans, and be yourself. (So cliché)!


Have a wonderful life.

mbrendlen
mbrendlen

Let me tell you all a little story about Vampire Weekend and why I have never been a fan of them. I used to work at a club (a pretty popular venue for music in California), and VW played there once, and of course the show was packed. I'd only just heard OF them a few months before that, and wasn't too impressed by the music. I wasn't about to call them a terrible band or anything, they just weren't doing anything to push the envelope, musically speaking, and it just wasn't for me. I studied music in college, and am a sound engineer right now, so I have pretty high standards.

Anyway, the guys in VW are backstage hanging out and chatting. The two guitarists are sitting across from each other doing a little unplugged practice session. 


One of the guys says to the other, "Now it goes to A minor" 

The second fellow furrows his brow, and cocks his head back at the first in an almost comical "HUH!?!?" gesture.

The first gentleman clarifies, "On the end there." and points to the end of the guitar neck (typically where one would find an easy way to finger Am).

Guy #2 looks back at Guy #1, then back at his guitar and says, "Uhhhhhh.... hmmm..."

Finally, Guy #1 takes Guy #2's fingers and physically PLACES them in the Am position.

Guy #2 looks at the chord and gives a nonchalant "Huh..."


Maybe it was one of those moments where you had to be there to get what I'm saying... but I WAS there, and this is what was going on... this is what irked me:

Here was a group of wildly popular "musicians" who were living my dream. A group of young rockers, selling out venues around the country... and they could barely play their instruments. It really bothered me to see a guy calling himself a guitarist when he couldn't even figure out what an Am was, or how it was played. These guys strike me as a bunch no direction kids who simply got their parents to buy them some instruments and rent some studio time for them. Basically, "Oh, hey, music... that looks like fun. I'll do that! That looks easy..."

I've studied music almost my whole life, many good friends of mine have graduated with actual degrees in music, and could write and play circles around those bastards... but no one wants that anymore. No one wants real musicianship, or intricate melody. They want something they can put on Spotify in the background while they work on their homework or get drunk... or both.

Ladies and gentlemen, this was a true story. I don't care much for God, but if I did, I would swear to him that it was.

blammo
blammo

Terrible article. One of the worst to ever run in Rocks Off. Great new album, great first album... also, vampire weekend werent some secret in 2008. They had tons of songs in commericials. I was at that ACL set at 2pm, there was a pretty big crowd. 

Lea Brice Hougland
Lea Brice Hougland

So you're saying you liked them first and now that everybody likes them, you don't think they're cool anymore... I don't understand why self-labeled hipsters hate something as soon as it gets popular. It's like the opposite of a fair weather fan. I hated that Diane Young song at first but I love it now. It's silly what they do with the distortion but that's what made me hate and it's also what makes me love it now.

youhipster
youhipster

this is why people call you a hipster

H_e_x
H_e_x

One of the worst band I've had the displeasure of seeing live.

rcbhatt
rcbhatt

this article sucks. while well written, sucks in theory and should've never ran.

the new album is excellent, so was contra. but i guess to each his own.

good day sir ... I SAID GOOD DAY



Selena.Dieringer
Selena.Dieringer

Great writing, but  I totally disagree! I love the new album. I agree about Contra,  but not this. They are never going to make that awesome self-titled album again. And if they did it would be hilariously dumb. We all get older... and as we do, we can't keep writing songs about college. Leave that up to Tay Swift.

Daniel Burnaman
Daniel Burnaman

You should be embarrassed by this article over anything else.

agingenraging
agingenraging

"This is not a new or recent development. I was being called a hipster in 2008, long before it was cool to call people hipsters." ...is this whole article not just an exemplification of this one statement? There's so much self endorsement in this article and it's dripping with that whole hipster mentality it completely distracts from the whole point..that vampire weekend is now trash. Instead it's about YOU and your stock as a 'second wave hipster', the worst kind. The hipster who claims to be a hipster before it was cool to be a hipster (really?) and has disdain for the newest crop of hipsters.



Anonymous
Anonymous

The fact that you liked Vampire Weekend before they were well known and acclaimed, and now you don't, is kind of the epitome  hipsterness, don't ya think?

unitsgore
unitsgore

@mbrendlen lol how many great musicians aren't professionally trained??? jimi hendrix, eric clapton, tom morello. noel gallagher has said multiple times that he doesnt know how to read music or what the notes are he just plays the music. sounds like you're just mad because you and your friends have gone to college for this and haven't made it big and vampire weekend has. some of the biggest names in music history couldn't or can't read music. its not that people no longer want trained musicians is that no one in history has ever cared about it. being able to read sheet music doesn't make you a good musician.

YoungandAnonymous
YoungandAnonymous

@blammo  I agree

Here's what I say to the author;


Just because a great band like Vampire Weekend releases an album different from their original album doesn't mean they're bad, it just means their music has evolved into a more eclectic, electronic style of music, which is still classified as indie rock. Don't get me wrong, their first album was fantastic, with heavy guitar influence. But you shouldn't shy away from a band just because you want to remain under the "hipster" stereotype. Also, your title of your blog proves that you are not a hipster, and are just latching on to the stereotypical ideal of a hip person. To you, I say: "Be yourself, don't try to live your life as somebody else, live it like you." And once you do that, you'll finally achieve your "hipster" enlightenment and be a hipster; completely socially independent from the mainstream. So forget about all of these "blog-mustache-fixie-skinny tie" shenanigans, and be yourself. (So cliché)!


Have a wonderful life.

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