Waddling Along to Vampire Weekend

I’m now three weeks removed from the misstep that left me with a broken ankle, which means that I’m (hopefully) halfway through my tenure as a member of the aircast boot brigade.

I’ve had good days and bad days since I started walking without crutches, but my overall condition has remained largely the same: simple activities like taking a shower or walking to meetings at work are a chore, getting a full night’s sleep is a challenge and muscle loss continues to be unavoidable.

Since it’s still too early for me to begin any physical therapy work to start building back strength in my left leg, I’ve had to restrict my workouts to core and upper body exercises. This has definitely led me to a newfound appreciation for the amount of strength training content that comes with my Peloton subscription. I had just been ignoring this part of the service prior to my injury. I actually sprung for a set of Peloton’s bootcamp weights and resistance bands a few days ago and I was pleasantly surprised by their quality. I feared they might be similar in quality to Peloton’s heart rate monitor or headphone options, which aren’t great.

Life has otherwise progressed as normal. Rebekah and I braved thunderstorms and tornado watches on Saturday to catch Vampire Weekend in concert at Cincinnati’s PNC Pavilion at Riverbend. Vampire Weekend was one of the first emerging indie acts that I covered for the now-defunct PAUSE Culture Magazine. After writing about the impending release of their first album, I caught them in concert in the garage performance space at Cincinnati’s also-now-defunct Gypsy Hut (currently the Northside Yacht Club) in 2008. That crowd was full of hipsters quipping about how much the band borrowed from Paul Simon’s Graceland, which sounded as baseless to me then as it does now.

A lot has changed since that small 2008 club gig, obviously, and the band that emerged on stage this weekend was nearly twice the size of the original Vampire Weekend quartet (obviously missing founding member and all-around utility player Rostam Batmanglij). If this band wasn’t wearing the Grateful Dead influence on its sleeves before, the two percussionists, extended instrumental jams and late-in-the-set covers (“Son of a Preacher Man” and Crowded House’s “Don’t Dream It’s Over”) certainly drove the fact home.

There’s been plenty of commentary over the fact that “Harmony Hall” reuses Ezra Koenig’s lyrics from “Finger Back:” “I don’t want to live like this, but I don’t want to die.” I think those lyrics have to be a nod – or maybe even a response – to Robert Hunter and Jerry Garcia’s “Run for the Roses,” with its refrain of “You don’t want to live but you’re chicken to die.” “Harmony Hall” even references “Run for the Roses” in its stuttering guitar solo that begins at the 3:40 mark. Again, Graceland is hardly the driving influence for this band.

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I’ve seen Vampire Weekend in concert more recently than 2008, but not since they graduated to headliner status. They played a dense two-hour set in Cincinnati, performing hits and deep cuts alike (who expected “Jonathan Low”?) and even took audience requests (“Ottoman”!). The sound in PNC Pavilion didn’t do justice to every song, and a few numbers from Father of the Bride were mixed particularly poorly. It was a hell of a show, though, and when giant beachballs fashioned after Father of the Bride‘s planet Earth album artwork were launched into the crowd for set-closer “Walcott,” I actually forget about my broken ankle for a few minutes. It doesn’t get much better than that.

Here’s the full setlist:

1. Sympathy⁣
2. Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa⁣
3. White Sky⁣
4. Unbelievers⁣
5. Bambina⁣
6. Holiday⁣
7. This Life⁣
8. Sunflower⁣
9. Don’t Lie (tour debut)⁣
10. My Mistake⁣
11. Stranger ⁣
12. Horchata—->⁣
13. New Dorp⁣ New York
14. Jonathan Low⁣
15. Big Blue⁣
16. Hold You Now (tour debut)⁣
17. Harmony Hall⁣
18. Diane Young⁣
19. Cousins⁣
20. A-Punk⁣
21. Oxford Comma⁣
22. Hannah Hunt⁣
23. Flower Moon⁣
24. Obvious Bicycle/Son of Preacher Man⁣

Encore:⁣
25. How Long?⁣
26. Don’t Dream It’s Over (Crowded House cover)⁣
27. Ottoman (request)⁣
28. Walcott

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