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September 13, 2010

Pictures: Vampire Weekend at Merriweather Post Pavilion Sept. 11

vampireweekendezra.jpgVampire Weekend fans put on their angry boat shoes to comment on my review of the band's first Maryland show at Merriweather Post Pavilion Saturday night.

One line of the review in particular riled them up, where I say the boys are dangerously close to becoming "that band lots of white people like." Enough commenters called it racially insensitive that I feel i should say something about it. Insensitive? Far from it. As a couple of readers pointed out, it's a reference to the popular satirical book and blog "Stuff White People Like."

Still, I wonder if i should have taken it out because it distracted readers from what the review said: that for a band that bills itself as preppy punks, their show is as punk as The Jonas Brothers'.  That's not breaking news, folks.

It's vox populi that "Vampire Weekend" and "Contra" are the soundtrack to teenage privileged angst. And that's fine. There's clearly an audience for that, and there should be. But a review isn't supposed to cater to the fans; on the contrary, it's supposed to inform future ticket buyers what they might get for their buck.

With Koenig and Co. you don't get a rock show, you get something mellower, more relaxed, as limp as al dente pasta. Their sound is just as accessible as Justin Bieber's - or Katy Perry's, or Pink's, or any number of top 40 artists - yet they're written off as downmarket, less edgy, uncool.

What struck me about the show is that, for all their accolades, there's really no distinction between the two. They're both equally adorable, though maybe Bieber embraces his mass appeal with more panache.

I also wrote the review after having interviewed singer/songwriter Jimmy Webb, the man behind classics like "Wichita Lineman" and "By the Time I get to Phoenix." And for a man who could be easily dismissed as "stuff white people like," Webb was candid and forceful on everything from the record industry's failing business model to illegal music downloads.

My point is, readers mistook my shots at Vampire Weekend's stage reticence for a preference for showmanship and loudness. And yet, Webb's music, for all its frailty, is anything but complacent. [Check out Live! Friday for his profile].

Anyway, I'm new in town, so better than get on the wrong foot with the very appreciated local readership, I have a peace offering: a great-looking photo gallery of Saturday night's show from contributing photographer Josh Sisk.

Pictures: Vampire Weekend at Merriweather Post Pavilion Sept. 11.


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Posted by Erik Maza at 11:10 AM | | Comments (28)
Categories: Concert Photo Gallery


Ah, if only it were fans of VW that didnt like the review. If Only.

All alone in my white boy pain.

First impressions are everything -- Maza is confirming the first impression I got seeing his photo -- a hipster dufus who is "too cool for school".

Too bad The Sun has given him such a platform. I suspect that they were hoping to bring someone on that has an edge and to take from City Paper's readership. Well, at least the CP writers are homegrown elitists -- bringing in someone from Miami makes it even worse.

It is bad enough every douche-bag club owner in town opens a venue and states publicly that they are going for a "Miami-vibe". Those clubs don't really resonate with the city and usually end up closed very shortly. I suspect the same will be with Eric with a "k".

This quote says it all -- "Here everything interests me – from some unknown playing Hexagon Space to Madonna/Prince dance parties at The Ottobar" -- , you mean you will be hitting not only unknown bands at a hipster venue, but also ironic pop music DJ nights at a hipster venue? Wow, you will really be diggin' deep into the city's nightlife culture.

geezy calm down, you sound like someone who just got trolled by 4chan

geezy get real. This blog desperately needed a change in hands and style. Sessa's shtick was getting stale, quickly.

If you aren't a fan of the new direction, move along. There are plenty of blog options out there on the world wide web. Don't be that guy that's around just to consistently whine.

30 is the new 20! It is much hipper to be in a crowd with a diverse age group these days. Maybe that scene hasn’t his Miami yet….

First, I wonder if the author notices the inherit paradox of a band being classified as "preppy punk" in which case he should not go to the show expecting to get a Black Lips style punk show.

Secondly, I wonder if the author realizes that a big draw with Vampire Weekend is that they are a more traditional band that became famous based on the music which they have written. They are not a 13 year old kid or a "sexy" girl that the industry has created and written songs for. I believe a music critic needs to appreciate the difference between a Vampire Weekend and a Katy Perry in order to be able to objectively review music from a genre he may not appreciate.

+1 @Evan and @yzeeg...this city's insularity is what gets it in trouble.

+1 @Evan and @yzeeg...this city's insularity is what gets it in trouble. Welcome Maza. This city's nightlife could use a few swift kicks in its face.

"Vampire Weekend fans put on their angry boat shoes to comment on my review"
--Okay, seriously, anyone who doesn't think this is hilarious needs to pull the stick outta their a**.

Replace Vampire Weekend with Chris Sligh and it's the same old talkback, just with a different moderator.

"...that for a band that bills itself as preppy punks, their show is as punk as The Jonas Brothers'"

When did they ever bill themselves as preppy "punks"? I don't think they've tried to be anything other than an indie pop band, which is what they are.

jc makes great points about what kind of music they actually play versus what you seemed to be expecting.

"But a review isn't supposed to cater to the fans; on the contrary, it's supposed to inform future ticket buyers what they might get for their buck."

The problem isn't that you wrote a negative review. The problem is that it seems pretty apparent that your opinion of the band was formed well before you ever set foot into Merriweather. You spent more time talking about wardrobes, whiteness and the crowd than the music played.

It's fine if you want to rip the show apart because of flubbed notes, their stage presence or poor set list construction (the last being the only knock I had with the show), but you even went so far as to say their playing was "competent."

Thus, people came to see a band they enjoy and got a pretty good performance. But in your review the performance was secondary to all your preconceived notions.

i have to deduct numerous point for changing the Midnight Sun twitter avatar to that face pic

Livin' La Vida Bmore!

To all of you haters! Fear the Midnight Sons!
To our new liege! Hip! Hip! Horray!

lol @ boat shoes...the place was packed with them, along with too many salmon colored khaki shorts to count, and I'm not exaggerrating

I only wear khaki, khakis and wore them proudly with my polo shirt. Boat shoes comment was pretty good. I give credit where credit is due, however BT's review of the review is 100% accurate.

Fascinating how the Sun fires quality journalists and yet hires (read: outsources) this guy (, who quickly makes apologies for what he writes.

Good luck.

ed. Sam Sessa actually got a promotion; he didn't get fired. And thanks for plugging my past clips. The immigration status of undocumented Haitian nationals in the US deserves a closer look.

Damn! SNAP! JH! You SO busted Erik! Armed with a Google, you're BOUND to win a Pulitzer! Way to go!!!!

Never said Sessa got the axe. My point was that there were many Baltimore-born reporters who lost their positions during the buyouts/layoffs of '08 and '09. Shame to see the seasoned veterans jobless while a Florida-imported kid plays nightlife reporter in the meantime.

"as limp as al dente pasta."

You really are an idiot. The term "al dente" means a firm pasta.


The hatred spewed toward Erik is remarkable, though I'm not sure why I get surprised at the behavior of people on the Internet. It's a blog, people.

Dude - Sessa didn't get axed he got promoted which is perhaps even more mind boggling. Not sure who made this EPIC hire though it's obviously a horrible mismatch.

At least he hasn't started ranting about how we need more D-bag bars like Milan or The Get Down (yet)

I'm surprised more wasn't said about the quality of the actual performance. I think the band has really hit their stride.

Not hating on Erik, but I'd be lying if I were to say this article wasn't identical to a thousand others that write-off VW without actually listening to the music.

"Insensitive? Far from it. As a couple of readers pointed out, it's a reference to the popular satirical book and blog "Stuff White People Like."

Let me see if I understand what you're saying here Erik. As long as an insensitive racist joke has been published on a website somewhere else, then it's no longer insensitive and racist, therefore OK to include on the Baltimore Sun website. Really? Please Dude, is that the best defense you could come up with? Let's be honest. That was a mean spirited race based comment that you made and the Sun would NEVER NEVER let you get away with making a similar comment about blacks, latinos, asians or any other ethnic group. That is a FACT. You know it, the Sun knows it and I know it.

I thought that you may be man enough to acknowledge your poor judgement and offer a sincere apology. But instead you offer up some lame juvenile finger pointing and say what amounts to "look they did it too!" That's what I expect from grade schoolers not from a professional journalist.

I don't care that you're not from Baltimore, I don't care that you dissed VW. But you obviously need some sensitivity traing Mr. Maza.

Stuff White People Like #101 - Being Offended

There seems to be a lot of resentment towards the fact that the new guy is from Miami, or that people generally move from other places. The plain truth is that Baltimore wouldn't be half the city it is if people didn't move here from elsewhere. It's always been my position that they should be encouraged to like it and to stay rather than be on the receiving end of this kind of treatment.

Although this whole thing is entertaining as hell.

And that old Twitter Avatar wasn't doing anyone any favors.


Well said...

It seem good performance in pictures.

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About Erik Maza
Erik Maza is a features reporter at the Baltimore Sun. He writes for several sections of the Sun paper and contributes weekly columns on music and nightlife. He also writes and edits the Midnight Sun blog. He often covers entertainment, business, and the business of entertainment. Occasionally, he writes about Four Loko, The Block, the liquor board, and those who practice "simulated sex with a potted palm tree." Before The Sun, he was a reporter at the Miami New Times. He's also written for Miami magazine, the Orlando Sentinel, the Sarasota Herald Tribune and the Gainesville Sun. Got tips? Gripes? Pitches? He's reachable at Click here to keep up with the dumb music he's listening to.

Midnight Sun covers Baltimore music, live entertainment, and nightlife news. On the blog, you'll find, among other things, concert announcements, breaking news, bars closings and openings, up-to-date coverage of crime in nightlife, new music, round-the-clock coverage of Virgin Mobile FreeFest, handy guides on bars staying open past 2 a.m. on New Year's Eve and those that carry Natty Boh on draft. Recurring features include seven-day nightlife guides, Concert News, guest reviews of bars and concerts, Wednesday Corkboard, and photo galleries, as well as reader-submitted photos. Thanks for reading.

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