[live review] Vampire Weekend, Beach House, Dum Dum Girls @ Pavilion 09.12.10


Another take on Sunday's indie-palooza at the Bank of America Pavilion with Vampire Weekend, Beach House and Dum Dum Girls. Check out Alex Cavallo's Phlipcam video here  

If you look at the giant curvature of the ceiling covering the seats at the Bank of America Pavilion at just the right angle, you can almost feel like you are in the belly of some terrible whale when you are at the wrong show. That’s the way it felt Sunday night near the cold and bland deeps of the Boston Harbor. Despite the indie super-bill, most of the seats lurked empty like black cavities in the whale’s teeth, as a mostly-disinterested crowd mulled around the BOA Pavilion snack and merchandise area, drinking giant cans of Bud Lite, casually watching the bands on video screens, and checking out the ‘acoustical’ act playing just a few hundred feet away at the beach hut-themed V.I.P. bar.

Opening-act Dum Dum Girls didn’t say a word about the present scene during their performance, although they can’t have been too comfortable. Aside from about a hundred people in the first few rows, the only thing shaking was the man with a video camera taking close-ups. Dum Dum Girls were formidable with their choral garage pop; tight musicianship, thundering floor toms, not to mention boots, bangs, lace and black minis (kind of like Morticia meets the Ramones). A little shyness is understandable for a new band playing in front of that much emptiness, but Dum Dum Girls have a great enough clutch of songs to develop into a dominant band in the next few years.

Beach House’s Victoria Legrand did seem get a little sarcastic towards the crowd when she said, “I hope you’re having a relaxing evening.” If relaxing means somnambular, then I think we were, as Beach House gave little in terms of energy — only guitarist Alex Scally rocking out (in a chair) to one mid-tempo mood piece after another. Scally himself took a spin on the usual beckoning for the audience to ‘sit back, relax and enjoy the show’ with this strange quip: “we’re happy to be here with Dum Dum Girls and Vampire Weekend, so don’t get too comfortable.” As Legrand stood behind her keyboard, her mess of hair once again in her face all night like a mental patient, it was easy to see that Beach House’s act only works when the audience buys into their decadence. Their only burst of energy, “Norway,” was so full of pre-recorded tracks that it even made a giant Bud Lite sound good right about then.

And then came Vampire Weekend’s cue to rescue the crowd from Monstro’s belly! It had been a long night of waiting for some parochial World Music, NYC style, and suddenly the listless crowd at BOA Pavilion became frothing Vampire Weekend fans. Amidst the pumping sing-a-longs and multicolored spotlights, it seemed fun for a minute to have the sounds of Vampire Weekend splashing around the concrete waterfront. But unless we’re talking about classic rock, or blast-from-the-past oldies where the outdoor convention center atmosphere makes sense, there are better places to see bands with vitality than the Pavilion.

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