Why’s Everybody Hatin’ On Vampire Weekend?


| 4/4/2008 3:53:28 PM


Tags: Vampire Weekend, Hype, n+1, Spin, indie Rock, Arts, Music,

Vampire Weekend StageA tension constricted the sold-out crowd at Minneapolis' Triple Rock Social Club last night as they nervously anticipated the arrival of the New York-based band Vampire Weekend. Dominated by college-aged males with the tails of their button-down shirts peeking out from below their sweaters, the crowd wasn’t just waiting to see the band. They were waiting to see the next big thing. The feeling jittering through the room could best be described as “hype.”

“By now everyone is familiar with the hype cycle,” the editors write in the post-hipster thought journal, n+1 (article not available online). It begins with early adopters latching on to a new or undervalued band, author, or artist before the general populous catches on. This phase of the hype cycle is exemplified by the sentiment, “I was listening to Fraz Liszt before Pitchfork ever even mentioned them,” write the editors of n+1. The initial excitement inevitably leads to a backlash, where the art is stamped with the label of overrated. The next step is the “backlash-to-the-backlash” eloquently expressed by n+1 as “Why’s everybody hatin’ on the [insert band here].”

Vampire Weekend SparseVampire Weekend is undoubtedly a beneficiary and victim of this fickle hype cycle. Formed barely two years ago in a Columbia dorm room, the African-influenced pop group now holds the dubious honor of being “the first band ever to be shot for a Spin cover before they'd even released an album,”  the magazine's Andy Greenwald wrote proudly. The quartet went from playing sparse crowds, as seen in the August 2007 photo on the right, to being one of the most-talked about bands in music today.

I experienced the backlash before the show began, when a bartender at the venue down the street told me, “Vampire Weekend? They’re overrated.” He had seen them at South by Southwest in Austin and didn’t feel their performance had lived up to the hype. Step three of the cycle came midway through the show, when a friend of mine said, “I’m definitely part of the backlash-to-the-backlash. I mean, they’re so cute!”

Google searches for “Vampire Weekend” over time. Source: Google Trends.

Google Trends Vampire Weekend