Remember, Milwaukee: There's always a Milwaukee connection. The hypothesis held true Saturday night, as Turner Hall welcomed the band whose bassist is related to the man who played "Chachi" on "Happy Days."
Vampire Weekend played to an enthusiastic crowd of fans who sang and bounced along to the quartet's Afropop-inspired indie rock.
Playing a 45ish-minute set proved to be a bit of a challenge for the young band, with just one album and one EP in its discography. Perhaps it explains why frontman Ezra Koenig chatted up the audience after each and every song. Every audience appreciates acknowledgement from a band, but that much "blah, blah, blahing" broke down any momentum Vampire Weekend began to build. (Between Koenig and keyboard player Rostam Batmanglij, we must have heard at least a half-dozen times that it was Vampire Weekend's first Milwaukee show.)
Another jolt to the system came in just the third song when Koenig stopped the band and told the audience he needed another guitar. It was unclear whether the problem was a broken string or Koenig's incorrect guitar choice, but does it matter? Whatever happened to "the show must go on"? Maybe he was just trying to kill time.
The New York band certainly has talent and a unique sound (if you chose to forget The Police cultivated it back in the late ‘70s); the members just need some seasoning and more experience. More material wouldn't hurt either.
The band worked through its eponymous album, it's "Mansard Roof" EP and even treated Milwaukee to at least one song from its second, forthcoming album. The quartet closed out the show with the high-energy "Walcott" as the encore.
Opening act YACHT proved more interesting than the headliner. The creative alter ego of Jona Bechtolt, one-man YACHT served up enough showmanship the fill the stage and then some and enough sound to fill the hall. He explained his other half was stuck in transit somewhere, but with his electronic-music-producing laptop and charisma, she was hardly missed. When YACHT worked the crowd, he did a goofy Q&A, answering that his favorite color is sea foam green (excellent choice), that he was not single and that he attended Catholic school but was no longer Catholic. Now that's the kind of stuff that woos an audience.
Velia Tarnoff counts among the loves of her life her daughter, her husband, her friends, writing, developing theories, dancing, live music, Southern California, black coffee and red wine. She's happiest when she can put as many of those together as possible. WWith more than 20 years of experience as a radio reporter and public relations professional, Velia is a natural communicator who loves to hear stories, to share stories and to tell it like it is.
Velia earned her B.A. from the UW School of Journalism and is thankful for every moment she spent on that wonderfully wacky campus.
And, in the interest of full disclosure, Velia is the wife of OnMilwaukee.com Publisher Andy Tarnoff.