Vampire Weekend wows at Berkeley’s Greek Theatre

As the sun set behind the Greek Theatre, Vampire Weekend took the stage for the first of two shows in Berkeley, California, marking their return to the Bay Area for the first time in 10 years (excluding their festival appearance at 2021 Outside Lands).

Known for their live performances and an impressive 17-year career, Vampire Weekend delivered a set that defined their ever-evolving sound.

The chemistry among band members Ezra Koenig, drummer Chris Tomson, bassist Chris Baio, and touring musicians, was evident from the opening of “Hold You Now” to the encore. The band seamlessly transitioned between old favorites, like “I Stand Corrected” and “Diane Young”, and newer tracks from their latest album, Only God Was Above Us. Songs off that album like “Prep School Gangsters”, “Connect”, and “The Surfer” translated beautifully onstage, somehow sounding even more orchestrated than the studio recordings. “Mary Boone” completely enveloped the audience in a trance, proving that Only God Was Above Us is a strong contender for a GRAMMY-nomination.

As the show drew to a close after a two-hour setlist, it became clear that Vampire Weekend have an undeniable ability to entice listeners to lose themselves in the music, whether it’s a ballad or a catchy rhythm. The closing song “Hope” showed off the instrumentation one layer at a time as each member put down their instrument and walked offstage.

The band returned to the stage for a not-so-typical encore, taking requests from the audience, but only covers from other artists. The band’s ability to think on the fly and solidly attempt covers from The Talking Heads, Bruce Springsteen, Weezer, UB40, Led Zeppelin, Green Day, and many others. Fan-favorite “Walcott” sealed off the unforgettable night. The rest of the Only God Was Above Us Tour spans across the United States through October 2024.

Photography by Sabrina Poei

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