Y3W: Vampire Weekend have a career of firsts

Photo: Vampire WinterPlayNapoleon Habeico
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Since forming at Columbia University in 2006, Vampire Weekend have made a habit of accomplishing "firsts." Band members Ezra Koenig (lead vocal, guitar), Chris Baio (bass, backing vocal), Rostam Batmanglij (keyboard, guitar, backing vocal) and Chris Tomson (percussion) had already booked their first gig before ever holding a rehearsal.

Looking less like rockers and more like country club members in cable knit sweaters and boat shoes, the band grew in popularity playing university parties. Their lyrical references ranged from grammar and architecture to Lil John and Louis Vuitton, and their musical style seamlessly fuses Afro-Pop with post-punk and orchestral strings to create their self-described "Upper West Side Soweto" sound.

Truly a DIY act, they booked their own tours, recorded their own EPs and designed their own artwork, and buzz surrounding the band quickly gained momentum among indie music fans and bloggers. They ultimately signed a record deal with independent label XL Recordings in 2007, and even earned a spot on Rolling Stone's 100 Best Songs of the Year list with the single "Cape Cod Kwassa Kwassa."

In January 2008, SPIN magazine declared Vampire Weekend "The Year's Best New Band," and they became the first band to be shot for the publication's cover before ever releasing an album. The debut "Vampire Weekend" was released to critical success and a lengthy world tour followed.

They reached another milestone in 2010 when sophomore album Contra debuted at #1 on the Billboard charts -- A first for XL Recordings. On Contra, the band's genre-bending tendencies continued as they incorporated electronic beats, Auto-Tune and adventurous vocals influenced by everything from Brazilian baile funk, Bollywood and the Beastie Boys. Vampire Weekend have just completed a tour with Beach House and the Dum Dum Girls, and they are in the early stages of making a new album.

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