When I think of Vampire Weekend, I think of my very first driving lesson. It was a Saturday morning after an event at my high school and my friend Mike was going to give me a ride home. When we got to his car he asked me if I wanted to drive it around the parking lot. As I sat behind the wheel, adjusting my seat, Mike asked what I wanted to listen to because that seemed like an important part of the experience. I said Vampire Weekend and then we got to talking about which VW songs were our favorites as I weaved through the parking lot until my erratic accelerating and braking gave him motion sickness.
The first time I heard Vampire Weekend, I was watching VH1 (something 8th grade Mary was not supposed to do) and they were talking about “Oxford Comma.” I’d never heard anything like that before. It was like something clicked. I got their first CD from the public library soon after that and then I fell in love. VW was the band that really got me interested in music. Before them, I didn’t know that there was this whole other realm of music that wasn’t being played on the radio. I had been living in a world of tired pop and Panic! at the Disco (I forgive you, angsty Mary). When Contra came out my freshman year, I was back at the library, poring over the lyrics as if they were a riddle I might decipher.
Vampire Weekend was the soundtrack to my adolescence. They were the first band that really meant something to me. They were the accompaniment to every basement hangout, every time we snuck out of school to go eat lunch at Steak ‘n’ Shake, every semi-rebellious thing I’ve done. I’ve grown with them.
Modern Vampires of the City was released my senior year. How fitting that I should start and end with them. That album was so reflective of where I was at that time. It was both retrospective and forward-looking. Because my friends and I had no way to articulate how it felt to be in-between stages of life, we just sang-shouted “Diane Young” and drove aimlessly amid cornfields that summer.
I’ve danced like crazy to “A-Punk;” I’ve paddled downriver in a canoe singing the intro to “Step” with my friend; I’ve wailed along with the crowd at a show in Chicago. Vampire Weekend has been a connecting point for so many friendships and small, wondrous moments. Unlike some of my other favorite bands, I do not listen to them for solace. I listen in celebration. In celebration of being a suburban punk, of growing up, of falling in love with new sounds. Sometimes I wonder about the longevity of a band like Vampire Weekend. Will they mean as much to me in ten years? I’m not sure, but maybe that isn’t the point anyway. Maybe it’s enough that they’re important now. Perhaps it’s even better that way.