Arts Desk

Arts Roundup: Are Vampire Weekend Jerks? Edition

contraGood morning! Vampire Weekend, the world's most beloved/most reviled/only Ivy League Afro-pop band, is releasing its much-anticipated sophomore record, Contra, next week. Press copies just went out, and the band posted the entire disc to its MySpace page yesterday—meaning, a lot of you probably have this on your hard drive already. The band was smart to keep this thing under wraps until the week before its release: By the time its first record dropped in 2008—a full year after a version of it began making the online rounds—a lot of its early champions were getting sick of it. Come on, you say. Sure, between the car commercials and the soundtrack placements, we've been totally oversaturated with this band for the last two years. But they're such nice lads! Not so fast! My colleague Jason Cherkis pointed me toward Lizzie Widdicombe's profile of Vampire Weekend from the Jan. 4 New Yorker. It's not online yet unless you're a subscriber, but check out this extremely surreal excerpt, in which the band shows up at the home of Blink-182 member Tom DeLonge, and both parties have camera crews in tow. First, Vampire Weekend interviews DeLonge. Then, DeLonge tries to sell them something called Modlife, "a preprackaged Web site for bands":

After the interview, he led the band into a conference room with a flat-screen TV and launched into a long pitch for an Internet project he was working on – “a prepackaged Web site” for bands, called Modlife. “I term it an ‘operating system,’” DeLonge said. “You could sell music, you could sell movies, you could sell advance tickets, you could do advertising, you could do automated V.I.P. parties. We’re gonna be putting in live auctions, e-commerce.” He continued, “We’re doing it with the White Stripes.” He said Vampire Weekend could do all of its business through Modlife, with the Web site taking twenty-five per cent of the profits. He demonstrated a video chat-room function by talking to a group of his Fans: “Hey, everybody, I’m doing a demonstration with Vampire Weekend. If you want Vampire Weekend to be on Modlife, say ‘Yes!’” The chat-room users started responding: “Yes!” “Yes!” “Yes!” One wrote, “No!”
DeLonge ignored it, and talked about video blogging: “Do you want to do normal blogs – or do you want to do it in the dark and have lasers going and make it look like you’re from space? And not call it a blog, call it a space cam?” He asked, what have you guys been doing for a Web site?”
“Three out of four of us are on Twitter,” Batmanglij said. DeLonge shook his head. “I don’t want to be freaking on the money part,” he said. “But you guys know and I know that you’re trying to live in an industry that’s dying. And so Modlife is trying to give you the chance to survive.” Then he screened a trailer for a movie that his new band, Angels & Airwaves had produced, called “Love” – images of an astronaut in a space station over swelling music.
Batmanglij started giggling, and DeLonge turned and looked at him.
“Uh, I just thought of something fun that we could do with our band,” he said.
“That’s rad,” DeLonge said evenly. “Cool.”
The Vampire Weekend members got up to leave. DeLonge shook their hands and said, “Consider this stuff.” Then he asked, “Why are you guys so mellow?”

“Three out of four of us are on Twitter,” [member Rostam] Batmanglij said. DeLonge shook his head. “I don’t want to be freaking on the money part,” he said. “But you guys know and I know that you’re trying to live in an industry that’s dying. And so Modlife is trying to give you the chance to survive.” Then he screened a trailer for a movie that his new band, Angels & Airwaves had produced, called “Love” – images of an astronaut in a space station over swelling music.

Batmanglij started giggling, and DeLonge turned and looked at him.

“Uh, I just thought of something fun that we could do with our band,” he said.

“That’s rad,” DeLonge said evenly. “Cool.”

The Vampire Weekend members got up to leave. DeLonge shook their hands and said, “Consider this stuff.” Then he asked, “Why are you guys so mellow?”

- Several D.C. residents are planning and curating Done & Done Festival, which will "celebrate the continuing ascent of NY and DC's underground music scenes," according to the festival's Tumblr. In an e-mail, organizers Erin McAuliff, Patrick Kigongo (of Ra Ra Rasputin and the State Department), and Matty Taylor (of Tennis System) wrote that they're currently booking bands and venues, and seeking sponsors. The festival will take place over two Saturdays in April, at venues here and in New York. The organizers said to expect an official announcement in February.

- A few D.C. names are playing Aural States Fest at the end of the month in Baltimore, including Benjy FerreeOffice of Future Plans, and True Womanhood.

- The L.A. Times' Patrick Goldstein on why conservatives hate Avatar. Also: the rationalism of the Na'vi.

- Semirelated: WaPo's Anne Midgette on the "red states" and "blues states" of the classical-musical world.

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