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Live Music Tonight: Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver

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Vampire Weekend, Yacht

Neumo’s, 8 p.m., SOLD OUT

How many of you dissed Vampire Weekend without ever hearing them? Come on, raise your hands! You know you did. And rightfully so. Among purists, there is still something highly inorganic about achieving instant success via Internet buzz. Even worse, these New Yorkers also have Ivy League educations (posers!). But the good thing is that, unlike, say, the Strokes, they don't try to cover up their privilege with rock 'n' roll costumes. Vampire Weekend are pure, saccharine indie pop. They are clean-cut, clever, book-learnin', Afro-inflected pop; there isn't a damn bit of rock 'n' roll in these boys. Internet buzz aside, Vampire Weekend would have ignited some rock-vs.-pop controversy anyway. They are divisive like Belle & Sebastian, the kind of band Stooges fans love to call "pussies." They are indie pop for girls who wear sweaters and boys who tuck in their shirts, which is another way of saying they are completely harmless. Like shopping at Urban Outfitters.

-- BRIAN J. BARR

Bon Iver, Phosphorescent, White Hinterland

Nectar, 8 p.m. $10

Retreating to a log cabin in the wintry Northwestern woods to hibernate, and emerging with a nine-track, self-recorded—betwixt trips with an ax to chop wood—full-length makes for precious kindling beneath the Jajaguwar marketing fire. But For Emma, Forever Ago, the sparse solo debut from Bon Iver—aka Justin Vernon—is far from smoke and mirrors, leaving behind glowing embers that linger long after the flames burn down. Composed of not much else than solid sheets of hollow acoustic guitar, sometimes backed with softly tapped rhythms and topped with multiple track overdubs where Vernon's steely falsetto soars, it's clear that three solitary months in the frozen wilderness paradoxically provided the glow necessary to melt away the layers of ice encasing ragged, emotional source material that comes through in his work.

-- AJA PECKNOLD

 
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