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Vampire Weekend at the Bowl: Where's the meat?

LOS ANGELES (Hollywood Reporter) – During their nearly 90-minute set Sunday at the Hollywood Bowl, New York-based indie Afro-popsters Vampire Weekend came off like the missing link between 1980s two-hit wonder Haircut 100 and legendary punks the Clash.

Like Haircut 100, Vampire Weekend are a cute bunch of preppy kids who churn out incessantly hummable, energetic tunes. Like Joe Strummer and company, the band plunders world-beat sounds that are likely unfamiliar to their core fan base, save for those who've heard their parents' Paul Simon records.

But one can't knock Vampire Weekend for their musical thievery because the quartet does it so well, and they're open about their influences. They've even paid back the debt by collaborating with and enlisting the Very Best -- fronted by Malawian singer Esau Mwamwaya -- as an opening act.

On Sunday, Vampire Weekend took the stage following a brief set by electro-toasting duo the Very Best and Baltimore's Beach House, whose surreal psychedelic drone-pop made VW sound like Justin Bieber by comparison.

Not that Vampire Weekend is as lightweight as the Bieb, but it's hard not to watch the band and wish there was more weighty subject matter on top of their chicken-scratch guitar riffs and skittering Afro-beats. Boyish good-looking frontman Ezra Koenig slid easily from his smooth Paul Simon-like croon into a falsetto in songs like "White Sky," and the band played with bash-'n'-pop exuberance on "Cousins." But throughout the majority of the set, one had to wonder whether there was anything more to Vampire Weekend's songs than a soundtrack for dancing on a warm September night.

Halfway through the set, Vampire Weekend finally made a statement with "One (Blake's Got a New Face)," a scathing indictment of plastic surgery that would make a perfect soundtrack selection for a big-screen adaptation of a Bret Easton Ellis novel. Before the tune, Koenig instructed the crowd it was a call-and-response song in which the "appropriate emotion is ecstatic anger."

A keyboard-heavy cover of Bruce Springsteen's "I'm Goin' Down" also showed promise, as did a stretched-out take of "Diplomat's Son," highlighting its reggae rhythms, and the dreamy "I Think Ur a Contra," with bassist Chris Biao on an upright piano and Koenig using revolutionary lingo as a metaphor for personal politics. That sort of potential makes one hopeful Vampire Weekend will develop from a pleasant diversion into a band that truly matters.


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O'Donnell Unable to Name RecentSupreme Court Decision -- Can You?

Much has been made of Republican senatorial candidate Christine O'Donnell'sshe disagreed with during the Delaware Senate debate.Many have found fault with the person who constantly trumpets the party line that activist judges have been ruining America.It has been pointed out that she should have been familiar with a few since she so strongly disagrees with what they are doing.But Christine O'Donnell says she is one of us () in a recent campaign ad. With that in mind, would you have had a problem naming a Supreme Court decision with which you disagreed?

WHYY anchor Nancy Karibjanian refused to supply a case to O'Donnell when she asked, noting that Christine O'Donnell herself would have to supply a case with which she disagrees.Unable to answer, she then argued with CNN anchor and co-moderator Wolf Blitzer when he offered her the consolation case of Roe v. Wade that it wasn't a recent case. When the question shifted to Democratic candidate Chris Coons, he was able to supply the January ruling stating that the government could not ban political spending by corporations in candidate elections.

Of course, Coons could have addressed the even more recent June ruling whereby the Supreme Court ruled that local gun laws could not restrict a citizen's right to own guns.But, then, he may have agreed with that ruling.

It is difficult to say how many people could have named a recent Supreme Court decision at all, let alone one with which they disagreed.Chances are, though, if they could, they would have been able to name one with which they disagreed far quicker than one with which they found agreement.Still, there are those who could have named several.But it would seem a given that someone who mouths anti-liberal platitudes against activist judges would have at least one case to offer.She did not.She couldn't think of one.And in that respect, Christine O'Donnell might have convincingly represented herself as one of the common people.

But is that the kind of person one wants as a lawmaker, one who votes on whether certain policies are legislated, certain laws are passed?As an elected official, she would sit on committees that formulated, revised, and/or removed certain aspects of legislation, thereby having a hand in the final measure.Shouldn't one be clear where one stands when it comes to law?And shouldn't someone being elected to public office and its responsibility of lawmaking at least have a position on recent rulings of Constitutionality on laws?

Christine O'Donnell proved during the Delaware senatorial debate that she was indeed like some of us.She couldn't name a recent Supreme Court decision with which she disagreed.She revealed that she was ill informed.But unlike most of us, she aspires to a public office that should demand at least a modicum of knowledge of that which one agrees or disagrees.And the voter deserves to know how their elected official will potentially legislate.

Because whether Christine O'Donnell knows it or not, what she would do if elected is something with which we will all have to live and just might become subject to Supreme Court perusal.It's the law.