Imagine Simba as a golden cub in “The Lion King” wearing a popped collar and chewing a big wad of bubblegum and you have some approximation of the charms and trifles of Vampire Weekend, the New York band providing consummate college rock.
At the sold-out record-release show at the Music Box @ Fonda on Tuesday, the joyful crowd bopped to the tightly wound “Contra,” the Columbia University act’s follow-up to their successful but divisive debut. In front of a huge blow-up of the album’s cover portrait that could've been shot by Cobra Snake (Cape Cod edition), Vampire Weekend, all in button-down shirts, played with near-militaristic focus and energy.
Frontman Ezra Koenig is forever swooning over “Graceland”-era Paul Simon, but with a few twists. Whereas Simon framed his lyrics with top-notch but loose instrumentation, Koenig lets his words -- sometimes attitudinal, sometimes observational -- walk alongside the music that hones its strength from precision, rather than sprawl.
“White Sky” was part firing shot, part opening number. The point was clear: You’re here to have fun. The crowd engaged thusly; one guy in a red jacket jogged assiduously in place for nearly every tune. Drummer Chris Tomson wouldn’t have had it any other way. His kit might as well have been a nail gun shooting the beats into the melodic floor.