And when their self-titled debut finally materialized in January 2008, it earned a rave Pitchfork review from Abebe himself. They return with a new album this week as survivors of the blog-hype era and a music industry that doesn’t prop up hot, young indie bands like it used to. Brody is now representing himself in the case. Putting yourself on the internet is step one. (I was the Voice’s music editor at the time; the love-hate dichotomy the band inspired was so intense back then that it felt only fair to let both sides be heard.) “Even you could beat up these guys,” Vulture quipped in a piece headlined “What to Expect From the Upcoming Vampire Weekend Backlash.” Koenig and the boys would be on Saturday Night Live by the spring. This is for the best, for everyone. But either way, they played the Hot New Band role so perfectly they rendered it obsolete. Vampire Weekend has given us an album which holds such intensity you feel it in your soul. I was like, ‘That actually looks really cool and interesting in a surprising way. The Oxford comma is so polarizing, the band Vampire Weekend used it as a song title and there’s an entire Twitter account dedicated to celebrities’ opinions on the punctuation. The dawn of the streaming era further awarded curiosity and genre diversification, and further disincentivized the industry to cough up a new putative savior of rock every six months. “I was so curious about what sort of Columbia-kid band would be working with Nasty Little Man that I was sitting next to, I think, his girlfriend at the time,” Abebe continues, “and I had to kind of lean over and ask, ‘What band is this?’ She said, ‘Oh, they’re called Vampire Weekend. “Because if you haven’t realized the intertwined, recombinant nature of music by now, you shouldn’t even listen to anything new. "There has been a total breakdown in the attorney-client relationship," attorneys Lavely & Singer wrote. “Just nothing cool about it.”. The “alternative” label was superfluous by then; they’d become one of the biggest rock bands in America, period. Their fourth album, Father of the Bride, is out Friday; its best song, lead single “Harmony Hall,” evokes the piano-bashing Rolling Stones at their jolliest, Fatboy Slim at his mellowest, a big-tent jam band at its warmest and least alienating. “I do think that ultimately the reason their path was unique is because they’re unique,” says SiriusXM radio host and Rolling Stone contributing editor Jenny Eliscu, who first profiled Vampire Weekend for the magazine, back when the band was fresh enough to make a Hot Issue. Kelefa Sanneh, then a New York Times pop critic and now a writer for The New Yorker, wrote that early admiring NYT live review and still recalls how infectious that admiration was from the start. “Nothing was more overhyped than the supposed controversy about Vampire Weekend,” remembers frontman Ezra Koenig. Which maybe it was. As 2007 rolled on, Rolling Stone interviewed them for the magazine’s Hot Issue, while The New York Times caught a modest show at a Williamsburg art gallery and enthusiastically pointed readers to the band’s Myspace page. Vampire Weekend are veterans now, uncontroversial, still beloved by their day-one fans and largely ignored by their day-one detractors. It allegedly took weeks for the parties to track him down, and Brody's lawyers quit the case in June, claiming Brody ignored phone calls and bills. Available with an Apple … Saab-o-philes of the Internet: Vampire Weekend frontman Ezra Koenig wants you to know that he's sorry. Soon, a blue CD-R full of spare indie-pop songs with provocatively fussy names like “Oxford Comma” and “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” was roiling MP3 blogs. This would raise quite a ruckus; this would make them famous. “There was something very accessible and charming and obvious only in retrospect about it.”, Returning now to 2008’s Vampire Weekend, that affable brashness and casually nuclear charm is everywhere. They didn’t make ’em like Vampire Weekend anymore, so elemental, so accessible. But Vampire Weekend, with their 2010 sophomore album, Contra, proved themselves an anomaly once again. Get Email Updates. “I feel like they were never the band that you had to listen to the album a bunch of times and kind of warm up to it and figure it out,” Sanneh says. Because only Vampire Weekend or Kanye West could possibly find themselves wrapped up in a controversy with people who fetishize cars. The ska-for-ska-haters jam “Holiday” was hooky and genial enough to power ad campaigns for both Honda and Tommy Hilfiger, but also durable enough that fans could still listen to it without feeling gross. Vampire Weekend’s last album, 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City, was a further maximalist leap and another critical and commercial success: the no. But in the six years since, it’s less that no younger band has overtaken the band’s lane than the lane itself has closed up entirely. The goalposts had moved, not so much farther away as just elsewhere: The trick now was to get the public to adapt to your vision of pop music, not adopt everyone else’s. The gulf between goading someone into downloading a free MP3 and hounding them into plunking down actual cash for a full-length album. The Polaroid was almost 30 years old, and Kennis didn't remember posing for it. Vampire Weekend had “the charisma of the internet,” as Aaron puts it, but the throwback swagger of actual people predestined for actual success. In an enervated year for music, when pop was rightfully eclipsed by Far More Important Matters, Vampire Weekend were as close as our little community got to a polarizing controversy. But then the band did something even more unexpected: survived. When Kennis sued Vampire Weekend, the band sued Brody, accusing him of misrepresenting his rights to the Contra photograph. Vampire Weekend controversy: More details on the former model who's suing the rockers, plus responses from the photographer and band. “Now,” Shepherd says, “Twitter is just like, you can substitute that for, ‘I stan!,’ you know?”. The leap from a computer screen to Late Show With David Letterman or, better yet, Saturday Night Live. That internet ecosystem, by the late 2000s, had its monumental successes and its cautionary tales, too. Father of the Bride is much anticipated within the band’s sizable universe but betrays no great urge to set the world aflame, critically or commercially: It unfolds, over the course of an expertly languid hour, into a broad, mega-festival pop-rock mélange designed to please most people and offend way fewer than usual. For a restless and forever-mutating music press, the whole cycle felt as irresistible as it was inevitable. 1 Billboard debut, the no. Hype was cheap; staying power, even past a few seconds, was invaluable. “But I also think that 2008 was the great explosion on the internet, and so people were starting to listen to different types of music, and so I think that was the first year of the decline of guitar rock.”. Vampire Weekend, meanwhile, are far less of a critical flash point these days, in part because five-alarm critical flash points are rarer overall, and certainly among men holding guitars. Vampire Weekend ideally served as a gateway drug, not a cheap American replacement. Ann Kirsten Kennis, who denied giving the band permission to use her image on album sleeve, wins undisclosed settlement, Contra-versy ... Vampire Weekend settle lawsuit with album cover star. 1, topped myriad year-end lists, and won a Grammy for Best Alternative Music Album. That larger debate can be boiled down to the song title “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” (which references a Congolese dance style) and the cheeky Myspace genre tag “Upper West Side Soweto” (which nods to both South Africa and Paul Simon’s vivid but not-uncontroversial reimagination of South Africa). Actually, I’d work with Kacey Musgraves. Soon the likes of Kendrick Lamar, the Weeknd, and Frank Ocean—along with Solange Knowles and her sister—would seize the year-end lists and commandeer all that internet-borne intrigue. But really, Vampire Weekend took everything from highlife guitars to collegiate lust to Lil Jon worship to a crisp polo shirt and made it theirs. The controversy escalated to the point that the Roman Catholic Church apparently dropped Interscope Records a line to express its displeasure. “I hadn’t spent enough time in … That's me, many years ago,'" Kennis told Vanity Fair in 2010. Two years later, 2013’s Modern Vampires of the City likewise debuted at no. For every Pitchfork favorite that later hit some semblance of the big time—whether that’s Arcade Fire winning the 2011 Album of the Year Grammy or LCD Soundsystem throwing itself a luxe (and premature) goodbye party at Madison Square Garden that same year—there was a band like Clap Your Hands Say Yeah or Black Kids, lavishly praised at first contact but ferociously dismissed with the very next breath, such that one’s dopey band name might become shorthand for “instant success followed by just-as-instant failure.” The music-internet economy needed a new challenger every few months, but the turnover rate was vicious, and so many of those once-hyped bands never quite got around to feeling … real. In December 2010, Vampire Weekend filed their own lawsuit against Brody, which argued that he would be liable for any damages Kennis would receive, due to misrepresentation. Somebody important finding you there is step two. “So we get there in the middle of the opening band’s set. Twelve years ago, Vampire Weekend arrived with crisp polos and Africa-indebted melodies, becoming heroes and villains all at once. “A-Punk” indeed sounds like a straight-A student’s idea of punk; “Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa” sounds like a louche campus loverboy’s come-on that doubles as a humblebrag about how many passport stamps he’s got. But that was a huge risk, because Clap Your Hands Say Yeah, Tapes ‘n Tapes, and all those other boring bands never went anywhere. Success all but ruined them; vaporizing their mainstream appeal, which for them meant writing knottier tunes nobody would think to put on Gossip Girl or even HBO’s Girls, was the only way to save themselves. “And then they’d hear who they were, and they’d be annoyed.”, Whether you loved to hate them or hated to love them, few modern rock bands inspired stronger feelings faster. Vampire Weekend's just-released debut album is enjoyable enough. (It lost to Kanye West’s Yeezus.) Soon he was helping Vampire Weekend set up shows and pass demos around. That sort of dramatic leveling-up doesn’t really happen overnight either, of course. "I was like, 'Yeah, that's strange. I think people argue, certainly, about what’s appropriate credit and all that kind of thing, but I tend to enjoy those kinds of culture clashes.”, In 2010, that culture clash still drove much of the conversation around Vampire Weekend’s Contra, which further rankled those critics who found the band exasperating from the start. There was. You should go check them out.’”, The subway guy was Vampire Weekend front man Ezra Koenig, and Abebe noticed something else immediately: “He was making boat shoes and a polo shirt look really good, in a way that they hadn’t to me previously. “‘They’re a party band. The band began at New York’s Columbia University, where sin…. But the next Vampire Weekend record, 2010’s Contra, debuted at no. “Spill kefir on your keffiyeh.”. “I always thought it was an unfair attack,” he writes. A bunch of people (critics mostly) were mad because of VAMPIRE WEEKEND. “Or this old rubric where mostly white, male, straight, cis, Ivy League, buttoned-up cool guys could come in and make a guitar album that was, like, jaunty, and everyone would lose their shit. 2 showing in the Voice’s year-end critics’ poll. It all felt so simple, so immediate, so preordained. We’re sort of talking to them.’”, Abebe is a rock critic and editor who wrote primarily for Pitchfork at the time; Nasty Little Man is a major PR firm. In 2019, Vampire Weekend, now a trio—Batmanglij left the band after Modern Vampires of the City—are perhaps the best band still standing from the mega-indie era, with a bigger and broader sound worthy of a longtime festival headliner. “That spring, after a conversation where I said I could visualize their next 18 months, they rightly challenged me on that assertion,” says Chen, now an executive at Nonesuch Records. She’s from Texas, too.”, In 2019, a public critical argument that messy and convoluted would likely unfold in bursts of 280 characters or fewer. But the band either couldn’t keep it together or didn’t want to, returning in 2010 with the claustrophobic, fame-addled, and defiantly pop-averse Congratulations. The music industry at that time was post–Napster crash but pre-streaming boom, with Pitchfork ascendant, MP3 blogs like Stereogum and Fluxblog thriving—yes, a decade ago, young tastemakers devoured new tunes one download at a time—and the critical conversation, in those halcyon days before Twitter saturation, transpiring mostly on message boards and, soon, Tumblr. But the larger and more troubling point is that in 2019, only rappers or avant-garde pop stars can much inspire anyone to do or say much of anything. Maybe there’s some pull to this.’”. 2009 brought one last burst of indie trailblazers crashing the mainstream, many tied to Brooklyn, physically or spiritually: Dirty Projectors, Grizzly Bear, Animal Collective. Each new tune sounded like a demo but felt suspiciously complete: the prim Afro-pop filigrees, the Ivy League erudition, the wise-ass hyper-melodiousness. “I mean, for us, that was like the music that your dad got real into after your parents divorced,” recalls Chicago author and critic Jessica Hopper, summing up the initial, far more skeptical attitude outside the band’s East Coast stronghold. Batmanglij is Iranian American; Koenig is of Hungarian-Jewish descent. (“The music I’m making is not terribly easy to apprehend,” Dirty Projectors frontman David Longstreth told The New York Times in 2009, just as lots of people were starting to apprehend it.) It is not ideal, perhaps, for a jocular Ivy League rock band to serve as one’s introduction to the myriad joys of African music, but that’s still preferable to never discovering those joys at all. Kennis won an undisclosed settlement from the band and their label, XL Records, while her photographer remains locked in ongoing litigation. 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