It took indie-rockers Vampire Weekend six years to recover from the rigors of touring on their celebrated 2013 release Modern Vampires of the City, which won a Grammy Award for Best Alternative Album. “I found touring totally joyless,” frontman Ezra Koenig recently shared with Rolling Stone.
Fortunately for fans, the band got past the burnout and returned in May with their superb fourth album, Father of the Bride. They even agreed to kick off a North American tour, which brings them to Cal Coast Credit Union Open Air Theatre on Thursday, Oct. 3, at 7:30 p.m.
Featuring 18 songs and diverse musical styles ranging from pop and rock to folk and country, Father of the Bride is Vampire Weekend’s third consecutive No. 1 album in the U.S. It engagingly combines cheery music — Koenig said he was shooting for a springtime vibe —with heady lyrics, exploring topics such as complacency, political discord, environmentalism and romantic ruin.
This is the first album without multi-instrumentalist and producer Rostam Batmanglij — who, along with Koenig (lead vocals and guitar), Chris Baio (bass) and Chris Tomson (drums), formed Vampire Weekend in 2006 while students at Columbia University. Though Batmanglij announced his departure from the band in 2016, he is one of Father of the Bride’s many contributors, which also include The Internet’s Steve Lacy, Mark Ronson and, notably, Danielle Haim, who duets with Koenig on three songs and lends backing vocals throughout the album.
For the Father of the Bride tour, the trio has amped up to a seven-piece including Brian Robert Jones, Greta Morgan, Garrett Ray and Will Canzoneri. According to Koenig, during the development of the new album it became clear to him that a bigger band would be necessary to properly execute the lusher songs in a live setting.
In early September, the New York-based group played a special concert at Madison Square Garden; it was the first time Vampire Weekend performed in these hallowed halls. In addition to standouts from the new album, such as “Harmony Hall” and “This Life,” the 30-plus-song, nearly three-hour show featured past hits including “A-Punk” and “Oxford Comma.”
While San Diegans shouldn’t expect such a marathon set when Vampire Weekend takes the stage here, the band has been known to play two hours or more, allowing some songs to stretch, inserting a surprise cover (from Springsteen to Crowded House) here and there, and even taking requests from the audience during the encore (tip: wear a bucket hat if you want to get picked).
Tickets for Vampire Weekend’s all-ages show at Open Air Theatre can be purchased online. Everyone who buys a ticket online will receive a free copy of Father of the Bride on CD. Soccer Mommy opens.
Donovan Roche has covered the world of music for more than 30 years. Send him your story ideas at firstname.lastname@example.org.