Vampire Weekend: Sunday night exorcism

Mark Thompson photos

Now that we think of it, it was a good idea for the festival to slot headliner Bob Dylan in the penultimate position on Sunday night. Dylan’s dusty set, though exciting and satisfying, didn’t actually fulfill the main task of a headlining slot, which is to send the audience home with a feeling that they’d experienced something profound and energizing. Dylan mostly just satisfied people’s expectations.

Vampire Weekend, on the other hand, got people to dance, and it was gratifying to see the field in front of the Green Stage shimmy and shake to VW’s Africanized indie rock. Though every bit as conceptual as Dirty Projectors, VW is dedicated to the idea that indie rock has to be fun first, and the revamped version of the band that closed the weekend on the Green Stage hit high point after high point, as if they were a jam band looking for the sweet spot.

They were also suitably relaxed. Leader Ezra Koenig wore shorts and a long-sleeved T-shirt, commenting that they had prepared to play in the rain and so it was a pleasant surprise that they didn’t have to. The audience was just grateful for a chance to boogie on dry ground, but, truthfully, didn’t seem to know how to react when Danielle Haim of Haim came out and joined the band for a version of Thin Lizzy’s “The Boys Are Back in Town.” It’s not exactly the kind of song that one would find in VM’s wheelhouse.