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Vampire Weekend Is Sick Of Haters

Reports of Vampire Weekend's culture-jacking preppy privilege are greatly exaggerated. Lead singer Ezra Koenig is sick of people taking potshots at his band. "They're attacking a version of us that doesn't actually exist," Koenig recently told The Guardian. He didn't go to New York's prestigious Columbia University because his family is wealthy. Quite the contrary: "My dad grew up in a working-class Jewish neighbourhood, and I got a scholarship from my dad's union to go to college. I went there to get an education, not as an extension of privilege." He also took the band's "whiteness" to task, reminding everyone that "the two main writers in the band are Jewish and Persian, which is a pretty broad definition of 'whiteness.'" Koenig's harshest words were for critics, who, he points out, mostly share his Caucasian, college-educated background. "They don't often get the chance to be activists," Koenig said of his detractors, "so when they see us come along, it provides them with a brilliantly simple opportunity to be activists: 'This is an outrage! These people are exploitative!'"

Vampire Weekend's preppy, cardiganed demeanor can be a turn off. Everyone hates preppies. It doesn't help their Ivy League image that they spent their first videos and singles frolicking on yachts and bitching about comma usage, or that the first single from their new album rhymes "horchata" with "balaclava," or that they coined the term "Upper West Side Soweto" to describe their sprightly Afro-punk sound. But we should all know by now how futile it is to make presumptions about musicians as people based on their music and appearance. If these guys are rich snobs, then Lady Gaga is an alien. Vampire Weekend's sophmore album, Contra, is out Jan. 12 on XL. [The Guardian]

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Vampire Weekend

Nice post, Craig. I agree with Ezra Koenig's replies to detractors who focus on the band's "whiteness" and the band's so-called exploitation of African sounds. The question he posed to Lizzie Widdicombe is poignant: "What is authentic to us? Is it the Rolling Stones -- some version of black Southern music?"

/site_media/uploads/images/users/brandon/216_browser_clut.gif brandon

Thanks. To a certain degree, I feel like they courted the image for a while, albeit ironically. Now it's sorta biting them in the ass, and they need to air it out a little. There's far more lucrative music to jack if you're trying to get ahead anyhow. where's the inevitable indie rock reggaeton hybrid? i'm waiting...

/site_media/uploads/images/users/LongestWinter/moonjpg.jpg CraigJenkins

I think its useless to attack Vampire Weekend for hijacking culture/music, that seems to be going overboard. I just feel that they are extremely over-exposed for being a middling pop group. The hype/promotion surrounding their new album seems to be everywhere currently.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/MFB/profilepicjpg.jpg MFB

Everywhere is right. I feel like they're the first thing I hear about when I wake up and the last thing I hear about when I go to sleep.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/brandon/216_browser_clut.gif brandon

Wait til Yeasayer comes out. You ain't seen nothing yet. Highly bloggable acts get blogged highly. I happen to find VW's music quite pleasant and the Elvis (they're stealing our music!!! lol) accusations quite ridiculous. Seriously, though, what is it about polos, cardigans and khakis that makes people's blood boil?

/site_media/uploads/images/users/LongestWinter/moonjpg.jpg CraigJenkins

What a jackass! This little boys are finally feeling some heat for their under developed silly-ass little sound and they think they have a voice to bitch about it?!! Now i can understand Koenig's frustration over being misrepresented for his background. But he does need to take the lumps because he allowed himself to be promoted in the way he's been promoted. And that's at the root of the animosity. If you let someone sell you, you don't own YOU anymore!

The music is crap. And getting crappier. So Koenig and friends.... you got what you wanted. You're a punk band! You look terrible, you sound bad, and no one likes you! Good luck!

dh Bennett

That Yeasayer album is just TBS very adequate. Not as good as the first.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/thestorfer/1202393jpeg.jpeg andross

are you panning the new yeasayer? sadness...

/site_media/uploads/images/users/LongestWinter/moonjpg.jpg CraigJenkins

I saw Vampire Weekend at a show where they were outclassed mightily by White Rabbits. That said, they were pretty good. My only bitch is that White Sky sounds exactly like Paul Simon's Crazy Love - big time. I can play them both at the same time and it's basically the same song. Play light fare and dress pretty all you want but don't be derivative. THAT's not cool.

kelley styring

Two things I've noticed about this band in elite college circles:
1) The kids who hate this band's upper-middle class background are generally upper middle class themselves, making it a thinly veiled transference of self-hatred.
2) Former members of the Society for the Preservation of the Oxford Comma facebook group generally hate them (since we're talking about elite colleges, there are a lot of such people, who had Facebook from the start).

These are the kinds of people we casually refer to as "Grammar Nazis," which in the case of Koenig, takes on an unfortunate, but informative context.

/site_media/uploads/images/users/Ethan/nirvana-corporate-rock-whoresjpg.jpg EStan

I went to see this band last night and they canceled the show. Apparently someone in the band was sick. If that's true it would have been a nice gesture for someone from the band itself to come to the stage and explain the situation not puss it up and make the promoter do it.


Not everyone has to love Vampire Weekend, but 'haters' should just keep their biased opinions to themselves. I can't believe there are people out there who get paid to call Vampire Weekend a bunch of "WASPS". Go and get a real job that actually contribute something good to the world!


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