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Vampire Weekend closes out second day of Big Guava fest

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Published:   |   Updated: May 4, 2014 at 02:58 AM

New York indie rockers Vampire Weekend closed out Day 2 at the Big Guava Music Festival on Saturday with their first-ever concert in Tampa.

Wow, those guys are something.

First of all, the sound was as close to perfect as I’ve heard in live music. The band and Ezra Koenig’s vocals sounded super clean and clear, even from a seat half way to the back of the Midflorida Amphitheatre. Pulling off a live sound that close to your recorded work is rare and deserves mentioning.

Second, they’re virtuosos, and it’s a pleasure to watch them work. Koenig oozed an easy charisma as he switched between acoustic and electric guitars and sang in his signature high pitch. Rotsam Batmanglij worked his various keyboards and apparatus like a NASA technician, sang that weird, alien-voice part on “Ya Hey” and picked up a guitar for a wild solo on “Hannah Hunt.” Drummer Chris Tomson and bassist Chris Baio are just stunningly tight musicians.

Perhaps most impressive, though, was the effect the band had on the crowd. Koenig, with a little wave of his hand and the slightest of wry smiles, would make them erupt. The floor in front of the stage was in a frenzy with people dancing and hopping into the air. Even Koenig had to note the energy.

“People crowd surfing during ‘Horchata?’ We don’t always get that. Only in Tampa,” he said, getting a big cheer.

Their 80-minute set also included “Oxford Comma,” “Cousins,” “Giving up the Gun,” “A-Punk” and “Unbelievers.”

An estimated 11,000 people attended the second day of the festival, slightly more than the 10,000-plus people on Friday when Outkast headlined.

The festival returns Sunday with Foster the People, Violent Femmes, Grouplove, Earl Sweatshirt, Chance the Rapper and more.

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