Live review/photos: Vampire Weekend at Radio City

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Photos by Lizz Kuehl Ezra Koenig and his well-scrubbed bandmates took the Radio City Music Hall stage in their button-downs, sang about diplomats' sons, horchata and grammar, then broke out in a Springsteen cover. Yes, this is "Stuff White People Like": The Concert Experience.

But Vampire Weekend has never been shy about its country-club airs. In fact, the the musicians' seamless aesthetic funnels their unflagging energy into an impressively tight live performance. Every pinstripe-wearing, hipster-but-not-too-hipster fan knows exactly what they're getting in Vampire Weekend, and Koenig and crew deliver with brio.

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"Thanks for joining our little hangout session in NYC," said Koenig about the first of three concerts, the band's Radio City debut (though it previously appeared at Conan O'Brien's stage show there in June). Koenig's laid-back attitude belies the effort that led to two snapped guitar strings throughout their set. His guitar sound is clean and peppy, as though the boys took their SAT vocab to a happenin' surf shack circa 1960. Chandeliers, like the one that graced the cover of the band's eponymous first album, appeared above the stage for "M79," an ode to the Manhattan crosstown bus. "If you feel any fondness for this bus, I hope you'll sing along," said Koenig to his hometown crowd; the preppy group first formed as Columbia University undergrads. Still, the Jersey roots of Koenig and drummer Chris Tomson showed through for a gentle cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm Goin' Down."

The band plowed through two albums' worth of material, appreciating the punch-the-air dance moves that were elicited by hits "A-Punk" and "Holiday," then later slowing down for "I Think UR a Contra" from the January release, Contra. Vampire Weekend's punctuation dis, "Oxford Comma," ended the set, followed by an encore of "Horchata," "Mansard Roof," and finally "Walcott," with its repeated refrain of "Don't you want to get out of Cape Cod" refrain. When the word yupster finally catches on, Vampire Weekend will illustrate that dictionary entry. But for the satisfied audience—which actually boasted a bit of diversity in race and age—that's hardly a problem.

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