I have to admit; I haven’t spent as much time as I would have liked listening to Vampire Weekend’s new album Father of the Bride, mainly because the majority of my musical listening hours have been devoted to unravelling Tool’s Fear Inoculum. But I was still right fired up for their performance Sunday night at MTelus as it had been five or six years since they’d passed through Montreal and they always deliver an outstanding live performance.
I most definitely wasn’t expecting to hear what was without question, the greatest live performance of the blues I have ever experienced! Wow, did that one come out of left field; opening act Christone “Kingfish” Ingram, a trio out of Clarksdale, Mississippi absolutely captivated the audience with their pristine take on classic blues-rock. This trio is one of those bands that never seem to hit a wrong or off note. Ingram also has one of the most commanding voices I’ve ever heard! I’m convinced you could set this guy up without a microphone and he’d still take control of the room. These guys are just getting their start and they already perform like seasoned vets. Their track “Fresh Out” is one of the best renditions of the blues I’ve ever heard and their take on Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” is straight-up on par with the original! I almost feel ridiculous saying it but it’s legit my homies. It was their last night on the tour with Vampire Weekend and they were so gracious and thankful for being there, you don’t see that kind of free-spirited positive energy enough these days. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of blues-rock, you need to give this band a listen, do it now!
I was literally elbow to elbow with people when Vampire Weekend ripped into their set; it’s been a while since I’ve seen the MTelus that packed. Ezra Koenig and company were in rare form, promoting their latest album Father of the Bride, but also hammering out a set so well balanced that I legit cannot think of a song they left out. Opening with high energy, feel-good songs “Holiday” and “White Sky” from 2010s Contra, the crowd was already near riotous. The entire band dressed in summertime/beach garb it was exactly what we needed as Montreal tries to cling to those final fleeting days of summer. Koenig made mention of the fact that, though it was a Sunday night the crowd had that Saturday night energy going and I had to concur, he wasn’t just pandering. Okay…when he said Montreal had the same energy as New York did the previous night (their home town show) that was likely pandering, but fuck it, the vibe was incredible, every concurrent song shot the crowd into fits of joy as Vampire Weekend tore through their catalogue, “Unbelievers,” “Horchata,” “Diane Young,” “A-Punk,” all of them pristinely performed.
The encore was its own special thing. I don’t think I ever seen an encore as fucking cool. Koenig decided to just straight up take requests from the crowd, pointing out people and asking them what they wanted to hear. First was a deep cut “Campus” that they played as if they had in fact prepared for the request! Next request was “A-Punk” as the crowd had a good chuckle and Koenig remarked, “Well we’ve already played that one, but sure why not” and they fucking played it again, with a few tonal changes and alterations. The crowd popped just as hard the second time around. Someone in the crowd had a sign saying they came in from New Jersey and Koenig asked them if they had a request. In true New Jersey fashion, they asked for Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m Going Down” and would you goddamn believe it, the band delivered a solid cover of it. Closing it out with “Ya Hey” was a fantastic way to top off an already stellar evening, top five show of 2019 for this boy that’s for sure. Koenig promised they’d be back in less than five years next time around and I already can’t wait.
Written by Lee Ferguson
Photography by Jean David Lafontant
*edited by Danielle Kenedy