Archive for June, 2008

The Vampire Weekends at the Variety Playhouse 6/11/08

Thursday, June 12th, 2008


“So Whit,” you say “Why are you calling the band ‘The Vampire Weekends?'”

Because old people always put a “the” at the beginning of a band name and an “s” at the end, and at this show I was OLD.

The opener was called The Harlem Shakes (that was actually their name, with the “the” and the “s”). They were very appropriate as an opener, since they sounded a lot like Vampire Weekend, only not as good. They looked loosely preppy too, the singer was wearing a t-shirt and a blazer. The rest of them got a little lazy with “the look” though, and just wore t-shirts that looked like they had slept in them. Their bass player also looked kind of like a grown up version of “wormser” from Revenge of the Nerds. He kept having to push his glasses back up his nose, but what did he expect – the glasses looked like they weighed two pounds with their huge metal frames. Also, they referred to all of their songs either “Jams” or “Tunes.” Sounded like they were trying a little too hard to be hip.

Vampire Weekend came on at 9:55 PM. The opened with Mansard Roof (the opening track from the album). If you saw them on SNL, they look pretty much the same, except the keyboard player who was wearing a douchebag-looking scarf at the time instead opted for retarded-looking huge round white sunglasses which he just wore as an accessory on his head the whole show. The band sounded good, and pretty tight. I’ll go on record and say that I think the drummer is a huge part of why this band has a good sound and I don’t think they had him quite loud enough in the mix. But maybe that’s just me being snobby.

Still, I have to say with all the hype that this band has generated, I was curious if they were going to put on a performance that demonstrated real “Star Power.” I can’t say that they did. They played all of the songs they’ve released (including “Ladies of Cambridge” off of the first EP) EXCEPT my favorite “The Kids Don’t Stand a Chance” which it seems they never play live. They also graced us with one new song that was pretty good. It sounded a lot like you would expect, with the one difference that it featured a little more vocal  harmony during the verse (which was pretty well done).

If I put on my grumpy old man hat (since I felt a decade older than most of the crowd), there were a few things that kept the show from being really great:

1) It clocked in at 50 minutes. I kind of expected this, but still. Really? 50 Minutes? “Why, when I was your age bands played for at least 90 minutes if they wanted to get paid.” I understand that they only have one album of material, but I have some suggestions for them: a) play my favorite song, you bastards! b) Learn one or two covers – surely you have some influences, no? Put a cool VW flair on a tune you like. I’d actually be really curious to hear how you could interpret a cover and I bet it would be really spiffy.

2) The banter was lacking. They didn’t talk to the crowd enough, and when they did, they didn’t have a whole lot to say. A little improvement in this area would help them as performers and would also help with problem #1.

3) The songs sounded exactly like the album. They didn’t draw out any parts or change any parts beyond a 2-second guitar flourish or drum fill. It’s impressive to be able to recreate the album, but a little variety helps remind people they’re seeing you live.

Still, I don’t mean to be too grumpy. The show was good and a lot of fun. I hope they continue to develop as a band because I like their sound and I like their songs. I must commend them for putting a big finish on the show. They came back out to encore with Wlcott, and about 2/3 of the way through the song they started letting folks up onto the stage. At first it looked like they were letting 1-2 people up there, but then the floodgates opened. It actually made for a very festive finale.

Vamp Encore

I’d say to check them out (with the above disclaimers) if you get the chance. For perspective though, I’m hoping to go to the Austin City Limits festival later this year and I know they’re playing. I’ll probably check someone else out at that time slot, ’cause I feel like I’ve already seen what they have to offer at this point.

It’s A Sign…

Thursday, June 5th, 2008

A while ago I think I promised to post pictures of my favorite signs that I’ve captured over the past eight or so years. I don’t know why but I’ve always gotten a kick out of signs with stick figure people in them. Most of the time, these stick figures are trying to warn you of some impending danger, or of activities and actions you should not partake in. I can’t remember what the first picture was that tickled me enough that I had to capture it on film, but since I’ve been such a delinquent blogger as of late I’ll try now to post all of my favorite signs and, where warranted, a brief back story. Let’s begin…

Low Ceiling

Low Ceiling

This one was in the shuttle that I took from some airport parking garage to the airport. This guy wants you to know that bumping your head is no joke and it’s going to hurt like a bitch!!

Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood watch

If you wear a trench coat and a hat, stay the fuck out of this neighborhood!!

Choking Hazard

Heimlich big

this is the full-view of a poster teaching and endorsing the Heimlich maneuver. Check out the close up below:

Heimlich zoom

That’s just a bit racier than the Heimlich I remember learning.

Don’t Rock the Boat (or the Vending Machine)

Vending 1

I think I was initially amused that this warning sticker even needed to exist. Then I remembered hearing about people getting trapped under vending machines when they tried to game the system (or get their money back). Anyway, apparently this warning sticker wasn’t clear enough about the dangers because later I saw this one:

tip over

the first guy is being risky, but this guy is totally screwed.

Exit in an Orderly Fashion:

That’s usually the instruction in case of an emergency, right? Well, the first guy got it right, but the rest seem a little more anxious to get out:

Fire Exit Stroll

“doot doo dooo… What? There’s a fire behind me? No Problem.”

Haul Ass

“There’s a huge fire behind me? Get out of my way!”

Get Out

Get Out!!!

Get Down

Get Down!!!

Escalator Rules 1:

Escalator Rules 1

So the first two rules seem reasonable: hold children’s hands, don’t put your foot on the side. I imagine people need to be reminded of those. The third one seems to be a much more rare situation. I would read it as “If you happen to be with a Shetland pony which has been severed in half, please pick up the front half and use the hand rail.”

Escalator Rules #2:


This one was in Paris at the Louvre. Again, the first two seem reasonable, but the second two seem to be banning specifically: French Poodles and Boots.

Clear and Present Danger: These need no captions



Mountain Lion

doesn’t that last box seem to suggest feeding your child to the Mountain Lion?

Potpourri: The rest of these deserve to be seen, but most could be explained with the caption “WTF?”


“Yeah, don’t do that, mmm-kay?”

no bitch slaps

(click for full size) this one seems to be saying “no graffiti, no littering, no bitch slaps.”

toilets for the armless

How considerate: Toilets for the armless.


“Oh Snap!”

Boat Table

“Oh Snap!”

don’t hold hands

Strangely here (unlike on escalators), parents are discouraged from holding their child’s hand.

I’m not Alone: One day browsing this internet I found I’m not alone in getting a kick out of signs like this:

Bolt of lightening (click for full size)

That’s all for now. In fact, I guess I haven’t officially posted an update. I got a job here in Atlanta (that I’m liking very much so far), and it’s severely cutting into my time and motivation to make blog posts. We’ll see if I get a second wind, but be forewarned that my slow trickle of posts might slow further to an occasional drip.